Related posts:No related photos. It’sa sobering thought that the future of one of Britain’s greatest company’s washeld in the balance by a dispute that caught both its management and the unionsby surprise.Thefact so many British Airways (BA) employees could be motivated to take part inwildcat strikes at the busiest time of the year, after five tough years for thebusiness, is an indication of a pretty serious breakdown in communications.Agreement may have been reached, but the dispute cost BA up to £40m and thereare now the inevitable questions over the capability of BA executives, and thefragility of its business processes and staff morale.It’sright that BA should look to move all its operations away from paper–based toelectronic systems. Ironically, 20,000 employees have already adopted the swipecard without a hitch.Buthighly effective industry chiefs know when groups of their employees are trulyunhappy. Theairline insists it’s been talking to unions about automated time recording forthe past 12 months, but it did not predict the anger at Heathrow. As its HRdirector explains, it has conducted extensive communications in a bid to listenand respect staff while tackling the “unimaginable challenges” thrown at it.But somehow, by looking at the bigger picture, someone failed to measure thestrength of feelings at a grassroots level. Heathrowemployees who spoke to Personnel Today’s deputy editor Penny Wilson (see page3) were highly critical of BA management from the top down to line managers.And Work Foundation chief executive Will Hutton believes there was a failure toget genuine employee involvement inshaping new working practices (see page 13). Bigchallenges now lie ahead including recovery of the brand reputation, which BAadmits cannot be achieved without employee support. The rate of growth in theaviation industry ( 215 million flights in Europe by the end of this year) willensure that people management remains a hot issue.BAis a high-cost operator competing against leaner budget airlines and its peopleshould be one of its core differentiator. The motivation and effectiveness ofthose frontline staff must be a top priority. JaneKing is editor of Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Caught out by chaos but BA can recoverOn 5 Aug 2003 in Personnel Today
"Caught out by chaos but BA can recover"