Strike Watch: Against All Odds, British Airways Strike Set For Saturday
March 18, 2010 at 4:19 PM
It might not make sense for British Airways cabin crews to strike. Too many things have to break exactly their way for this to be a winner. The airline's plan to run at 65% capacity with replacement crews has to fail. The public's overwhelming lack of support, most recently crystallized in a name-'em-and-shame-'em slam from the British Prime Minister himself, has to change. And BA has to suffer so much that they cave but not enough that they go out of business, which would cost everyone their jobs. That's a lot of balls that have to stay in the air for a long time.
Despite that, it looks like we're just over a day away from a three-day walkout. The private last-minute talks between union leaders and airline executives just broke down. This might actually happen. Which, since we own zero BA stock and we weren't planning to fly them any time soon, is mostly entertaining. For anyone who doesn't meet those two conditions, not so much.
The BA union is partly hoping that support from like-minded overseas unions will seep back into Britain and swing public opinion in their direction. In the last few hours, for instance, the Australian Transport Workers Union has pledged their solidarity. Reports are that union officials are in the US looking for further support. Statements are undeniably really nice. But we can't be the only ones who've noticed that - solidarity or no solidarity - no other union has offered to join the strike.
As for the entertainment value: our current favorite inside-baseball "eff you" has to be the airline's demand that workers somehow shave £30m off their agreement. That's the amount of money BA has already lost negotiating the agreement, so they're demanding it come out of the union's pocket. It's almost like they're daring them to strike.
[Photo: d_proffer / Wiki Commons]
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