British Airways and their cabin crew-winners and losers?

With feelings running high and with so much at stake are BA and the employees representatives right to bring in ACAS?

If you are looking for a strong example to use to support the work of Acas and the benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) then maybe you need look no further than the present dispute between British Airways and its cabin crews.  The cabin crew are planning a 12 day period of strikes during the Christmas holiday period.

What is the dispute about?  Well it's difficult to say and that is probably part of the problem with relationships between the main players being so poor.  Apparently BA want to reduce cabin crew numbers on many of its long-haul flights out of Heathrow but arguments persist that this is just the tip of the iceberg and other cost cutting arbitrary operational changes are just around the corner.

There is also the matter of a court action in the High Court in which BA are arguing that the employees union UNITE conducted the ballot required for industrial action was not conducted appropriately, with 'leaving' members included.  It is perhaps important to remember that this is an employment situation and it is not always appropriate to go to court, if long term relations between employer and employees matter and are paramount to the overall success of the business.  So who has taken their eye off the ball?  BA or are the cabin crew verging on a such a potentially damaging course of action as to put the very existence of the company at risk?

Lets look at the big picture.

The strikes are planned from 22 December to the 2 January.  If the strike lasts for the 12 day period - it will adversely affect up to 1 million passengers who have already booked flights with BA.  Up to 650 BA flights will be affected.

It is thought that a 12 day strike will cost the company up to £300m in terms of lost revenue and it will certainly not help the company in its reported £3.7bn pension deficit.

Acas has over 30 years of experience in helping organisations of all sizes to avoid and resolve problems with relationships at work but will they be given a further chance to help with mediation in the present BA cabin crew crisis? 

Acas have confirmed that they have been involved in informal talks but are hoping for a more formal role in an attempt to resolve this long running and potentially damaging row.

In the meantime the High Court has granted an injunction to BA declaring the ballot of Unite members to have been illegal due to irregularities.  Maybe this will provide a breathing space for common sense to prevail.


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