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BA, the unions and the impossible solution

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BA, the unions and the impossible solution

BA Plc and Unite the Union is quickly descending into a Greek tragedy, with the worlds press as a captive audience. Each side has suffered, in many senses of the word, on the journey thus far, and the end of the jolty road is not yet in sight.  With comment by Philip Henson, Head of Employment law, and accredited mediator, at law firm Bargate Murray

Unite, to their credit, (in response to an offer from ACAS last week) issued a press release saying that “We are ready to meet with BA under any auspices to try to find a solution”. Surely this was the gauntlet to be picked up?

However, that olive branch seems to have been burned overnight with a further press release from Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson (of Unite) issued after the injunction result was made public that “It need hardly be said that this brings the prospect of a settlement to the dispute with British Airways not one day closer”. There may be professional respect between the higher echelons of the parties (after all everyone likes a worthy opponent in any battle) but surely they must be getting bored of the current situation. There are no doubt a myriad of other business decisions which the parties need to address. The monthly rotation of litigation; full page advertisements; vitriolic press releases, and then appeals, has to be brought to end in early course. I would not be surprised if we soon see a free shuttle bus from their offices to the High Court.

In spite of this I have an optimistic image in my minds eye of senior representatives of BA and Unite shaking hands, and talking of a new working relationship together for the benefit of  their employees, shareholders, members (and lest we forget BA passengers). Perhaps the Bargate Murray coffee is too strong today but the parties would be best advised to consider mediation before Ministers try and make their mark on this dispute, and crucially before the public hears the dissonant twang of sabre rattling again.”

20 May 2010

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