Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Twelve days of Christmas....strike action..

News today that the members of the Unite union will be on strike from December 22nd, thereby ruining the Christmas travel arrangements for thousands, possibly millions of people.

The apparent disagreement is about BA wanting to cut the number of air steward staff on flights.

I'm always a little bothered by unions' obvious attempts to blackmail the employers of their members. It always seems more than a little ironic to me that by preventing measures that will make the organisation profitable again, there are dangers that more drastic measures will be needed later. Including larger redundancies. If the company went out of business, then all the cabin staff (and everyone else) would be out of a job.

The owner of a sweet shop was on the news earlier today, saying that he had banned all BA staff from entering his shop in Horsham as they were to blame (he perceived) for his plan to go to New York and share Christmas with a friend being put into the balance.

I don't think my opinions of union action will shock, I personally feel they tend to be counter productive in the end. There is, after all, only so much money to go round, and it's sheer naivety on their part to think that the budget for wages increases because of their actions. If anything, it just prolongs and increases any action required to bring a company back into profitability.

Having said that, I do believe that companies should be prepared to think beyond the 'need to cut staff to save money' model that some seem to wheel out in times of financial hardship. What does seem strange is that when any company is doing well, the members of its board do very very well indeed as the success is supposedly due to their actions. When a company falls onto hard times, it appears that they are able to justify stiff pay rises or rewards for themselves as they are having to make 'difficult decisions'. Surely it would make more sense that they suffered a share of the pain that they meter out to the general workforce ? Wage cuts, pay freezes, increases of duties all being things that are asked of staff during such times. Funny how that doesn't appear to translate into the boardroom.

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