I hope that by the time you read this the BA strike will be over. But
that is probably a vain hope.
I also hope that it will be the last strike of its kind. That may seem
an extraordinary and perhaps foolishly unrealistic thing to say. So let
me try and explain what I mean.
There is little doubt that many of those who work as BA cabin crew feel
a genuine sense of grievance. Many of the terms and conditions under
which they have worked for years are being changed. Some of the changes
clearly work to their disadvantage. Traditionally trades unions exist to
try and protect workers from changes of this kind and to defend the
rights and privileges which have been won over the years. So to a large
extent Unite, the trade union involved in the strike, is just doing what
trades unions have always done, though with less success in recent years
And there, I suggest, lies the key to the reason why I doubt that the
current strike will succeed and why I hope it will be the last of its
The world is changing and changing fast. BA faces fierce competition on
all its routes. It has no god-given right to exist. Its survival is in
doubt. The strike will do it significant damage and make its prospects
of survival less secure.
I always try and fly BA. At the beginning of the year, at the time of
the earlier threatened strike, I went to Canada on Air Canada – because
I wasn’t sure BA would be flying. Since then I have gone back to BA but
many others won’t.
During a radio discussion on the value of the perks available to BA
cabin crew, including heavily discounted flights, I heard one BA
employee, who was on strike say that they weren’t much use because most
of her colleagues made these journeys using lower cost airlines anyway.
The irony of this remark was lost on her but that could hardly be a more
vivid example of the need for BA to become more competitive.
I can hardly conclude this article without making some reference to the
political influence of Unite, which is the Labour Party’s principal
paymaster having contributed £11 million to the Party over the last few
years. That hardly inspires confidence in the Government’s ability to
fulfil the role of honest broker.
But I hope good sense will prevail and the strike will not continue. And
I hope BA will survive and thrive and fly us safely to our destinations
for many years to come.