Thursday, 20 May 2010

Why risk flying British Airways? It's a good question

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BA boss Willie Walsh will no doubt be incensed by today's court of appeal ruling, which overturns an earlier judgment at the high court and paves the way for fresh strikes by cabin crew.

The airline had secured its injunction on the admittedly flimsy grounds that Unite broke strict rules over reporting ballot results. But while lawyers and industrial relations experts will be gleefully dissecting the new judgment, for most air passengers it is of surprisingly little consequence. In their minds, BA has long been synonymous with uncertainty.

Had the injunction stood, Unite was pledging to re-ballot members immediately. Strikes that were planned for May would have been pushed back to July. Now they're back to May again. And the promised third ballot, by the way, is most likely still going ahead...

Monday, 10 May 2010

British Airways strike can be averted

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Benjamin Franklin had it right when he wrote in his autobiography that the best way to win an argument is to adopt an air of "modest diffidence". This approach works not only because it arouses respect among your detractors – who, though unlikely to be immediately won over, will at least lend you a sympathetic ear – but more crucially because of the effect it has on the workings of your inner mind. Men who question their own logic will find it less often being corrected by others.

The alternative, Franklin noted, is to adopt "a positive, assuming manner, that seldom fails to disgust [and] tends to create opposition".

Such a presumed air of papal infallibility is something the BA chief executive, Willie Walsh, should be forgiven for having allowed to creep up on him. The airline boss has dealt a series of decisive blows to Unite in his dispute with the union over cost cutting, and along the way has succeeded in rousing near-universal support among the public, politicians and the media. Though not the most charismatic of speakers, his uncompromising stance clearly struck a chord with many in these austere times...