Essays on British Airways Industrial Dispute in 2010 Case Study

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The paper 'British Airways Industrial Dispute in 2010" is a good example of a management case study. British Airways is an airline company that is based in the United Kingdom and it is recognised across the world. British Airways is among the best airline service business across the world and it has also continuously expanded its operations across the globe (Barrow, 2011). British Airways was founded in 1974 and it is the flag carrier of the United Kingdom and its main hub is located in London Heathrow Airport. However, British Airways has of late experienced enormous competition resulting in operations in an environment, which is competitive (Upchurch, 2010).

Competition and other business-related as resulted in the organisation introducing strategies such as reduction of costs to sustain operations. Regarding human resource, the organisation decided to lay off employees and also have requested employees to improve on productivity. The aim of this report is to analyse the British Airways industrial dispute and the contribution of Unite towards the dispute. Industrial Dispute Description (cause and effect) British Airways industrial dispute involved its employees and Unite (Unite is a labour union that has more than two million members).

The industrial dispute is unique in itself because it did not only affect employees and employer, but it introduced the aspect of political parties, media, customers and also the government. Inclusion of numerous stakeholders indicates the contribution of British Airways to the socioeconomic environment of many people involved. British Airways has about 13,500 employees. Out of these 13,500 employees, 12,000 employees are Unite members. The industrial dispute started after 81% of British Airways cabin crew staff voted in February 2010 in favour of a strike.

This 81% were members of Bassa, which is a Unite branch that dealt with cabin crew (Barrow, 2011). The major concern of these employees was the proposed changes in working conditions and also staffing cuts. The voting was a follow up of a ballot, which had occurred in late 2009 whereby the employees had supported it wholly but British Airways challenged the vote because it had not followed the regulations provided in 1992 Trade Union Act (Williams and Scott, 2011). The injunction was permitted and it resulted in the cancellation of the strike (Upchurch, 2010). The problem can also be attributed in decision making within British Airways.

Organisations bring together different stakeholders who are supposed to fulfil specific goals (Williams and Scott, 2011). For example, decisions involving human resource should involve the inclusion of agents of human resource within the organisation. However, British Airways unilaterally decided to reduce the number of cabin crew on long haul flights. The aim of this strategy was to reduce the number of employees because of the reported pre-tax loss of £ 401 million in 2008 (Barrow, 2011).

The Unite union started campaigning against the court injunction stating that the law was tilted in favour of the employers rather than the employees (Pearson, Anitha and McDowell, 2010). Since the management of British Airways did not follow on with negations, it resulted in the ballot of February 2010, which allowed for the strike. The ballot resulted in a seven-day strike and it occurred twice separately in March 2010. On the other hand, British Airways responded to the strike in a number of ways, that may be assumed infuriated the employees and union further (Upchurch, 2010).

One of the strategies utilised by British Airways is the withdrawal of travel perks for the air stewards. These perks were a significant and important benefit for the air stewards (Williams and Scott, 2011). The second strategy employed by British Airways was ‘ borrowing’ cabin crew from competitors, utilising volunteer crew such as British Airways pilots and chartering of jets. Even though these strategies were employed, British Airways experienced financial losses. For example, British Airways estimated that the strike may have cost £ 45 million and carried fewer passengers compared to such period the previous months (Barrow, 2011).

These statistics represented a decrease of 15% while competitors such as Ryanair reported an increase of 13% within the same period. Within the seven days of the strike, only 58% of short-haul trips were successful and 79% of its long haul flight was successful, and they achieved these through borrowing and hiring services from rival carriers.


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Upchurch, M. 2010. Creating a sustainable work environment in British Airways: Implications of the 2010 cabin crew dispute. Technical Report. Middlesex University, London.

Williams, D. 2010. Industrial policy. Local Economy, vol. 25, no. 8, pp. 612-621

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