Letter: BA's sanctions against strikers

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The Independent Online
Sir: Andreas Whittam Smith ("Punishment, fear and humiliation - the bully's way", 8 July), says that I have been unreasonable towards British Airways staff. His accusations are unfair, and much of his argument naive.

This is not a dispute which is based on reasonable grounds. There is no justification for this strike. The agreement has been accepted by the other union representing cabin crew. The only reason for implementing this deal without the consent of the union Bassa is that they walked out and refused to discuss the deal with us during the process which we arranged months ago.

Rather than negotiate, Bassa called for a strike, which is damaging our company and causing great distress to our customers. It is surely the responsibility of those who take such an important decision to be sure there is good reason to do so, and it is our responsibility to encourage all staff to ignore a call for industrial action where there is not. It is only right that they should consider very seriously indeed the consequences of their actions, which could damage all of their colleagues at British Airways. Given these circumstances, it is surely naive to argue that there should be no sanctions for those willing to cause such disruption.

To say that this indicates that British Airways does not fully accept the right of people to belong to a trade union is ridiculous. British Airways recognises more trade unions than any other large employer in this country, and we have already reached agreements with unions representing over 30,000 of our staff.

We are doing everything we can to let our staff come to work, as most of them want to. Our overriding concern throughout this dispute has been our customers, and we are doing everything possible to ensure that they are inconvenienced as little as possible throughout this difficult time.

ROBERT AYLING

Chief Executive

British Airways

Hounslow, Middlesex

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