AS THE ANA LCC JV GOES THROUGH WE LOOK AT SOMETHING THAT COULD AFFECT AIRLINES ACROSS THE GLOBE

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore February 2, 2011 15:27

AS THE ANA LCC JV GOES THROUGH WE LOOK AT SOMETHING THAT COULD AFFECT AIRLINES ACROSS THE GLOBE

Having lost out in 2010 to an unwavering Willie Walsh, the unions now look to underhand guerrilla-style tactics aimed at causing British Airways maximum damage.

We have said it before and we will have to say it again – What is it about union leaders that makes them, on the whole, so short sighted? In our view, union leaders are fair game as most of them earn more than the CEOs they so despise and yet they make that living through hypocrisy. But the following news will make all airlines sit up and think:

Having voted overwhelmingly in favour of fresh strikes, British Airways cabin crew, who are members of the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (Bassa), have decided against simply staging pre-planned walkouts as is traditional. Instead, they are considering calling strike days and then cancelling some of them at the very last minute.

This would mean that airline managers would have to deal with two crews turning up to work on the same flight – the strikers and the volunteers who were enlisted to replace them. It would also mean that aircraft, some with crews, would be leased and not be required. Now this you might think is straight forward, BA simply runs with the planned aircraft and crew for the day and send home the guerrilla strikers, but here is the rub, BA would be legally obliged to pay staff who turned up to work, even if they had been expected to go out on strike! It is obvious that the unions have paid vast sums to law firms to come up with the cast iron loophole.

Some union members want to go a step further and are considering a work to rule. This could see crew refusing to help passengers lift cabin luggage into overhead bins, or withdrawing goodwill – such as turning up early for pre-flight briefings.

At most airlines this would not be a problem but with BA at Heathrow, an airport operating at 98% capacity, it is very important that slots are not missed by even the narrowest of margins.

So why would yet another union wish to damage its members by hurting their employer to the point where more staff cuts need to take place? The union is battered and bruised by its encounter with Willie Walsh last year and wants to disrupt the airline’s operations without exposing members to disciplinary action, this, because last year membership of the union fell from 12,780 to 10,220 as BA came out fighting and cut travel perks.

BA will no doubt overcome this latest test from the unions but more money will be lost at a time when fuel costs are on the rise and expansion is sought.

The unions have got the airlines on the turning up to work basis but on working to rule the airlines may be able to force action against the employees. Watch this space.

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore February 2, 2011 15:27
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