British Airways staff have defended their right to strike over the introduction of clocking-on swipecards.
Staff object to the enforced changes
In e-mail comments sent to BBC News Online, staff said the dispute was the culmination of five years of cost-cutting and increasingly overbearing management at the airline.
But there was little sympathy for the workers' plight among News Online readers.
Several e-mails accused check-in staff who staged an unofficial walk-out of being "whingers".
Readers who had used swipecards to clock on at their own place of work were more sympathetic.
But more typical was the comment that BA staff were putting the future of a great British company in jeopardy over an apparently trivial matter.
Here is a selection of your views.
I talked to some BA employees.
The problem is not the swipe card system, but the fear that the employer want complete freedom to decide the actual times an employee works on an as needed basis.
I am sure most supermarkets would face similar industrial action if they told the counter staff to go home on Thursday afternoon because they were not busy and return on Sunday morning instead.
I have worked in BA Engineering for the last four years. It has been enjoyable but only because of my work colleagues. The BA Engineers are the among the best in the world. The problem is the management. I have never seen morale so low in a work place. The time it takes for decisions to be made is pathetic. There are far too many managers and I can honestly say that if you got rid of half of them things would be a lot better. They have changed the shift patterns three times in as many years and are not really paying any attention to the effect on peoples personal lives. The management don't have a clue what is going on on the work floor and have lost touch. We never see our supposed bosses, these people who are supposed to manage us. Since September 11th things have been rough and we have done a lot for the company, we have done a lot giving for the managers and the company, now it is time for them to give something back! If annualised hours came in BA would lose its best engineers.
For obvious reason,s as an employee for British Airways I wish to stay anonymous. To shed some further light on the matter, the new clocking in system is only the cherry on the cake. As far as engineering is concerned the build up to such a strike has developed over the past 5 years, with the management wanting everything for nothing to gain their big bonuses ( let me stress here that there are 2 managers to every 1 frontline staff, the company is definitely top heavy as you can see, many managers of which are on £50k a year on gardening leave at home giving no benefit to the airline, approx 2000 managers). The engineers have taken on more responsibility, gained professional qualifications making them the most qualified engineers in Europe that benefits the airline and keeps the aircraft to an airworthiness standard, fit for flight with no reward over the past 5 years! The engineers in BA are vastly underpaid for their training, knowledge, responsibilities and status as professional engineers and this has to be addressed, It is a fact that we are 15% below the average for the industry underpaid! The swipe card system just adds to the stress within the work place. There is no need for it and the management are not giving the real reasons for implementing such a system.
I worked for a Local Authority in the South Midlands between 1998 and 2000. They had introduced an automated clocking in and out system sometime before I joined. I found nothing wrong with it. In fact I found it to my advantage because once swiped in your time in was recorded and your Lunch break. Aso those who smoked clocked in and out when they went for a cigarette. I never heard of any complaints from staff, in fact it was very fair. I can understand the BA staff's reluctance to accept the new system, but it could work in their favour. It could show the actual hours worked rather then relying on a manual system which could be fiddled by those who wanted to cheat.
I work for a company that uses swipe card clocking in, and I can understand BA staff's reservations. At my company if we are one minute late clocking in we are deducted 15 minutes pay, and if we want to make this time up we have to stay on 15 minutes to make up for being 1 minute late! To make it even more unfair if we clock in early, we are not rewarded for this; this means I could clock in 5 minutes early in the morning, be 1 minute late back from lunch and lose 15 minutes pay. BA need to re-assure their staff over the introduction of this system.
Richard McLeod, UK
I have been Cabin Crew with BA for 5 years. The airline has gone through bad times and it is the people, in this case the frontline staff, that contribute to its survival. All cost cutting measures have been targeted at reducing passenger services and front line staff while the management, in particular the middle management, contribute little compared to the rest of the company. Front line staff have had enough of constant control mechanisms, lower wages, inflexibility and unfairness from the management when introducing cost cutting measures. It is time that everybody in BA made sacrifices but not always the ones that are most important for passengers' safety, comfort and service.
I work for Asda and we swipe on and off at the beginning and end of each shift. Sometimes the system can go wrong, but 99% of the time, we get paid the right amount for what we've worked for. Our contracted hours are known by the system, so if we're sent home early, we won't get paid, which is fair enough; Why should the company keep you there when there's nothing to do? We don't expect to get paid for doing nothing; is this what the BA workers are afraid of - not getting paid for sitting around on lengthy quiet periods and getting sent home?
Jonathon, Manchester, UK
My company has used swipe-card clocking for many years and I really can't see what all the fuss is about! The lunatics have clearly taken over amongst the baggage handlers and their union representatives and they should all visit the real world before returning to their obviously rarefied and possibly unique workplace. Perhaps the real problem is that they don't want their various clocking scams exposed to management scrutiny!
Tony Essex, UK
I work for BA and am one of the staff who is being told to use the ATR. I, however, have no issue with using this and am currently doing so. I do not believe my colleagues were justified in walking out and causing the mayhem that ensued. I am disgusted with their actions. They were so quick to defend their colleagues who have lost their jobs over the last 18 months. Their actions are selfish and short sighted. Our current rosters are being relaxed and "early traps" (leaving work anything up to 2 hours before the end of shift) is commonplace but always with the permission of our shift managers. So things have to change? We've had it fairly cushy for years but now have to wake up and smell the coffee.....
I work at Terminal One and know for a fact this will mean annualized hours as BA do not have enough staff currently in our terminal, and yet we will be acquiring extra long haul flights in October which will require a lot more staff yet management say they are not bringing in anymore staff. They constantly reduce the amount of staff they say they require for the operation and yet as anyone will know if they have have travelled recently, there are very few desks open and a lot of times queues out of the door. Management insist we will be able to manage with the extra long haul flights we will be handling as they say they will be during the quiet times of our short haul operation. Also the general conditions BA expect us to work under are totally unacceptable. We all realise in the airline industry post 9/11 changes had to be made, but the ground staff have had absolutely every perk taken away from us whereas other areas still enjoy many perks.
Never before have the ground staff taken things as far as this but we feel we have been pushed too far solely because BA wish cut costs at the mercy of the ground staff.
They even employ a company, who takes care of the wheelchair operation, who do not conform to regulations regarding breaks for their staff. Their service is appalling and yet BA sticks with them because they are dirt cheap, even though they cause numerous delays to aircrafts due to lack of staff.
BA have already introduced annualized hours to the "Aunties," ladies who come in seasonally to help with children travelling alone resulting in a number of resignations from long standing staff. We do not wish to be 'on call' to BA.
This I believe is what BA eventually wishes to do, squeeze and squeeze until the staff who have a number of years service are pushed out to make way for lower paid staff. Many times we are told "if you don't like it there's the door!"
melanie torino, UK LHR
We currently use a clocking system and the benefits are fantastic! You can actually prove that you are working overtime and can have it paid or added to your holidays!
Dave, The Netherlands