British Airways executives have reached agreement with union leaders following a dispute over working conditions.
But BA says the recent staff dispute has cost it up to £40m, as it unveils a loss of £45m for the April to June period.
The row centred on the introduction of a new electronic swipe card clocking-on system at Heathrow airport.
Workers had feared that the new system would be used to push through other changes in pay and conditions.
What do you think of the agreement? Are you a BA staff member? What impact has the strike action had on you?
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:
Why all the concentration on the swipe card when the real concern is over the working practices and changes to rosters? Is the real reason to this the opportunity to outsource the check-in? How can a national carrier have their customers at their central hub handled by third parties who have no interest in the airline? It is also interesting to hear comments from pilots saying they are flying half empty planes yet they are still bumping us unsuspecting passengers due to over sales!
A great way for BA to win back the British public would be to announce a reversal of the decision to mothball Concorde
Rosie T, England
I'd like to congratulate the BA check-in staff for their actions in this dispute. Not only were they short-sighted enough to alienate their entire client base and give themselves bad publicity, but they did it at peak season resulting in the chaotic scenes we witnessed on our news channels. In the long term, they must now realise that because of them, additional restructuring and cost savings will now be needed in addition to those needed after 9/11, SARS and Iraq. They have thrown away the jobs of many colleagues who would otherwise have been employed at the end of the process.
Why do people believe that the 'Rod Eddingtons' of this world should have the power to decide how their lives work? We live in a democracy, don't we? Why do people believe that if they have miserable working conditions, other should too? Who in their right mind believes an economy organised around stripping away more and more working rights in the guise of efficiency and in the name of competition is an economy organised in their benefit?
Andrew Bartlett, UK
To put this in terms that even the union leaders ought to be able to understand. Employers in the UK increasingly operate in a global market against global competition. If these businesses are saddled with employment costs that are higher than similar businesses in other countries, they'll go bust. Then there will be no union members, hence no union subscriptions and eventually no union.
John R Smith, UK
Frankly, who needs BA check-in staff? Whenever I fly BA I use their automated check-in facility at Heathrow. Its faster, and you get to choose your seat rather than be allocated one on a whim. These machines have no grievance with split-shifts or clocking in and out. The future I suspect.
Neil warrior, London, UK
Blame and counter blame seems to ignore the real cause of this crisis: ever increasing international competition driving down prices, quality and working conditions. Striking at just one airline won't help - but BA management's 'modernisation' can only ever be short-lived - until the next round of cuts and increased exploitation is needed for the airline to survive. It's about time there were some decent international agreements which made high labour standards mandatory. That way companies wouldn't have to worry about suffering competitively if they had good labour standards, and morale and quality would improve. Slightly higher prices for passengers would surely be a price worth paying.
I work for BA in South Wales, and the general opinion here is that they have had it far to easy in London for a long time. The ATR system they are complaining about has been used in Cardiff for 10 years. They try to hide behind an "annualised hours" smokescreen, but the truth is, they will not be able to get away with as much as they do now, if there hours are monitored. They get paid for 8 hours a day, they should work for 8 hours a day. They have very little support from BA around the UK as they have better terms and pay than us anyway, and I think we, around the regions, are annoyed that we might be tarred with the same brush when I can assure you that we do not all think the same.
Anonymous fed up BA worker,
Maybe BA should reconsider selling Concorde to Richard Branson to recuperate some of their so called losses. For what ever reasons for the losses, staff strikes or what ever, BA bosses can't complain when refusing to make a lot of money selling off the Concorde fleet, and allowing someone else the chance to keep a fantastic plane in the air. It seems like BA management can't make any right decisions these days!
I am relieved a settlement is reached as I am due to fly BA both for pleasure and business in coming weeks. If the workers are working true to the contract of their employment the new system should give them no cause for concern as they are abiding by the rules of their contract. As for BA losses, why waste time and money on short haul flights to provide in-flight catering, a tea or coffee is often too hot to drink before they take it away. I would welcome in-flight catering being scrapped on flight less than 2 hours. Best regards.
Simon Ward, England
BA is a another example of an English institution that is out of touch with the modern world. The old school, heavy handed management tactics it employs combined with recruitment policies that parallel the civil service ensures that they can never be a cutting edge modern company. Also, sharp business practises (remember the Virgin ticket scandal), dreadful customer services (its one of the most complained about airlines in the world) combined with the current (avoidable) industrial actions will make it almost impossible for their brand to recover. This is why their losses will continue to mount up. I am one of the millions of people who will never trust BA or fly with them again.
The strike action (unofficial, unannounced) was calculated to cause maximum misery and disruption to passengers (my family lost a two week holiday in the US), so I have no sympathy with BA's staff, and I will definitely not be using their services again. However, BA's management also displayed incompetence in seeking to introduce the clocking-on system at the beginning of the school holidays, the worst possible time.
I don't understand why people are being so sympathetic towards BA staff. To parrot Rod Eddington's phrase, no-one has a God-given right to work. Check-in staff enjoy many perks that many non-unionised workers in other sectors cannot even imagine. With so many people unemployed, BA check-in staff should seek to alter policy from within, not ruin other people's dream holidays because they fear they'll be caught skiving by the new swipe-card system. If they don't like the policy and can't change it, they can always look for another job.
The employees at my company (big corporate) have requested that we don't fly BA again. We've switched to other airlines. BA have behaved despicably to its customers and even though we're business customers we all know how poorly BA treats its tourist class too. If BA can behave like this and expect people to stand on a pavement for days, what will they be like to us? We're disgusted. Also, it's got to make you wonder - if they can't even properly handle the implementation of a swipe card system, how on earth do they manage getting a plane in the air and making sure your baggage will reach the destination.
So after many days at the TUC both BA and the unions are happy with the result? If BA had acted properly in the first place and negotiated instead of imposing, then action could have been avoided. Let that be a salutary lesson to fat cat employers. Well done the workers! I for one would have made other arrangements anyway as there is no way I would cross a picket line, official or no. The main reason I and my colleagues fly BA is because of it's unionisation. No Ryanair for me!
Having flown across the Atlantic frequently and hoping to do so in the future B.A. will still - for the present time, be my Preferred Choice. I would just like to say however, it is time the employees woke up and smelt the coffee. Why do they think they are different from other people. They have an excellent benefits package, which in today's world lots of people would be grateful for. If they like and wish to continue working - get with the programme and join the rest of society. We all know the union people who organize these strikes do not go without wages when advising their membership to take strike action. Who is running this airline - the people who are shareholders - the passengers or the unions? Let us hope B.A. can survive so we can get the service we are willing to pay for.
Mary Dixon, Canada
British Airways are trying to be both an upmarket business airline and compete with the cheap and cheerful budget airlines. Unfortunately their high costs are not compatible with the growing budget market. Take a look at Rover Cars and you'll see BA's future. Too small to compete in the mass market, and no longer regarded as quality option by business users. This dispute is a sideshow, the problem are far more deep routed.
Neil Matheson, UK
By going on strike and costing the company they work for millions of pounds, BA's staff have put their own futures at risk. We were told that a large proportion of the check in staff are women with families worried about changes to their hours, how will they feel when they're made redundant because BA have to cut flights and no longer need the check-in staff?
Toby Josham, UK
I am glad it's over, as the greed of the unions was a threat to the world's best airline. And it's nice to see that BA really got their way in the end - the scheme is still coming in September.
David Mercier, UK
We need to remember that this was not an official strike - if the employees had gone through the proper channels, BA could at least have made some contingency arrangements. The PR from management might not have been great but I don't understand why they were taking all the flak when their staff walked out announced.
I guess I'll have to wait even longer now for my free flight through BA's air miles scheme, as these are usually the first things that are cut back due to savings.
Tim Eavis, United Kingdom
Sell Concorde to Richard Branson. That would cut some of the losses.
I trust the boardroom at BA in acknowledging their mistakes, will not now ask for big bonuses. The fare paying passengers deserve better, especially those of us who are frequent flyers paying high fares.
Tony Gaster, UK
This is very poor and almost contemptuous management of its people. What action has BA taken against the manager who made the decision to unilaterally change the employees' contracts? These employees are poorly paid and they don't spontaneously walk out for nothing. BA would have had warning of the dispute if management had attempted to negotiate this change. There is now a low trust relationship between employees and employers and the responsibility for that lies at the top. Who made the £40 million pound mistake?
This agreement really only puts off the inevitable. We have over capacity in the airlines and low fares mean low wages. Ultimately something has to give. Britain led the industrial revolution and the Chairman of BA has said they do not have a God-given right to survive. Given the US airlines are also in problems and the environmental issues associated with flight, surely it is time to sit down on an international basis and thrash this out.
Tony, Welling Kent
A company is its staff and if they are unhappy it will pass on to the passengers. My sister works for BA and says it is top heavy with managers. She works a 6 on, 3 off rotation and doesn't earn mega money. Many staff work at BA for the flight deals, it makes up for the low salaries. If this swipe system is to be used to slip in split shifts then I can understand the anger of the staff.
That this crisis was ever allowed to happen speaks volumes about BA's management competence and style, the fragility of BA's business processes and the state of the BA staff's morale. Electronic time and attendance recording is a common process across UK industry but the introduction of such a major change requires a high level of prior planning, consultation and agreement between management and unions which was clearly absent in the case of BA.
Richard Durrant, UK
I have friends who are BA staff and think the company is a much better employer than other airlines they have worked for. However, the Heathrow staff generally enjoy the best employment packages by far. This action is extremely selfish possibly jeopardising many staff outside Heathrow.
Look, the time to strike is when something unacceptable is introduced, not when you just fear it might be. The Union has already said it isn't striking because of the swipe-card system per se, but because of how BA employees might be tempted to use it in future. Well on that logic, we'd all be on strike all of the time.
Johnny Acton, UK
My family (including two young children) were left stranded at Heathrow on Sat 19th July. If we had waited for BA we probably would not have got home until Tuesday. We were 'lucky' : we stayed with relatives for one night then flew with Easyjet back to Aberdeen on Sunday (at a cost of almost £600). We got no advice or help from BA. We have yet to get through to anyone at BA by phone. We do not know whether we will get the cost of our Easyjet flights refunded.
We booked BA flights because they have always been efficient in the past. We were so angry and upset at the recent experience that we will look for any possible alternative before using BA again.
I do not agree with the way in which BA staff have gone about resolving their grievance. I bet they all went home to their own beds on Saturday night - my children didn't.
Anne Horgan, Scotland
I work at Heathrow (not BA) and, looking on as a 'supplier' to BA, it is self evident that their staff enjoy some of the best working conditions and benefits of all the airlines. They are one of the few companies left in the UK where they do value their staff and, I suspect, the recent problems are a result of their union representatives 1970s view of democracy.
Kevin T, UK
The unions should grow up. The public have already realised that the BA "workers" are scared of the swipe card system for one reason only. That is they fear an accurate record of their working hours will reveal how little work they actually do!
Join the real world - you should be paid for working - not drinking tea and smoking.
David Hall, England
Anytime I travel with BA I find the vast majority of the staff to be excellent. There is the odd abrasive uninterested one, very definitely. I truly believe all BA's recent mis-steps are due to woeful management. Mess-ups with airline alliances. Public pronouncements that BA didn't need backpackers, regardless of how affluent they could shortly become. And most spectacularly, the decision to paint the planes to look like something that originated in a nursery school! Last year I had reason to write a letter of complaint to BA management - it was ignored. I suspect this current staff dispute is over reaction but in the face of BA management, I'd give the minions the benefit of the doubt.
Mark Lynch, UK
As BA is supposed to offer excellent service on an international basis, I am sorry to say that find such attitude from its staff totally inexcusable, irregardless of whether the BA management has truly mistreated them or not.
On the other hand, I think their action would be more reasonable if many of them arrange to group themselves to meet their management to voice their dissatisfaction. In this way, the management can receive mass feedback of staff dissatisfaction in the management.
BA is a very good airline, the middle management just need to throw off the Civil Service mentality and act sensibly in the interests of the staff, passengers and the company.
I work for BA in a different department and have done for 27 years. I wasn't on strike. However, let me tell you a few home truths about how we're treated. Post Sept 11, I, along with many others in my grade took a 5% pay hit. We have never had that " loan " repaid. But if the pilots make any threat of action, the management hose them down with money and improved conditions. I also have no fixed working hours, meaning that I can be expected to work twelve hour days with no notice if operationally essential. It doesn't mean, though that I can take a half day off on Friday if the work load is light - this no fixed working hours arrangement is all one way. I don't get paid overtime, I'm expected to take it off as time off in lieu.
The imposition of even more erosion of lifestyle and dignity in employment was the last straw. We don't strike for the hell of it.
I got stuck at Heathrow too that night. In the past year I have flown BA about 100 times and I have flown 3 times since that night and will continue to fly with them. At the end of the day you can't fault them in the air. The cabin crews are the best in the world (if you don't agree just fly any US airline) and the pilots are the most professional in the world. Yes management made a mess of it, yes the check-in staff were out of order, but it won't stop me giving them my custom. The alternatives are just not up to the job.
To the militant union employees at BA: Get your heads out of the sand or you'll take down the entire ship and then blame it all on management.
I have flown BA many times from New York to London and have always enjoyed their excellent service. I support the BA staff with their strike action. How many of you complaining about them would support annualised hours at your jobs? Not many I am sure.
The media are very keen to report the effects of strikes but not so eager to devote space to reporting the causes of them. When BA staff explain the severe disruptions to normal life caused by the proposed changes, their action makes sense.
Dale, New Zealand
BA staff should wake up and realise that their airline is not the only one in the world. People have choices. I have just cancelled my booking with BA to Paris for next month. My manager has cancelled his reservations to Brussels via London. A colleague has just cancelled his bookings for himself and his wife on BA. The list is endless. BA should also realise that they are an international airline and that the impact of the action by their staff' has an affect on business and travellers world-wide.
United Arab Emirates
Why do people say "Irresponsible workers will lose their jobs"? No they won't. The same number of people will still fly and ex BA workers will get re-employed by airlines that take a more consultative and humane approach in their employee relations. I was a personnel manager in industry for 20 years and negotiated introduction of "swipe card" systems. I thought I was a bit "right wing" but never would have treated a workforce like BA do. BA should fall and make way for better employers.
Robert Goodhand, England
Once again our unions use the right to strike as the first resort rather than the last one!
If the smart card was simply to clock on and off, then clearly the strike was grossly irresponsible. However, if it is designed to introduce annualised hours then everyone should have been consulted, as this is clearly a major change in working practices. All said and done though - the proper course is surely consultation and negotiation not a throw back to the 1960s. Both sides seem to be at fault, meanwhile passengers suffer. If they want BA to survive both sides had better change and pretty quickly.
Andrew Jago, Netherlands (Brit)
Having read a bit of the background to this, I can fully understand why the staff walked out. The problem is not the swipe card itself (let's face it, most companies use swipe cards of some form or another these days), but that this may be used as a way of implementing annualised hours. This would mean that staff would not work a regular shift pattern, but would be called in at short notice when it was busy and then sent home again when it was quieter. So you still do the same amount of work, but your working day may be much longer and, more importantly, unpredictable. Can you imagine the havoc this would cause for staff with children? I wouldn't tolerate it either!
I see BA are hoping that customer loyalty will see them through this in the long term - they should not be so confident. I was caught up in a similar BA strike in the early 1990's, being stuck in France with two young children unable to get home. I was so angry at the time I swore our family would never fly BA again and we have not. I have flown BA since on a couple of business trips where BA have been the only choice on the route, but on the whole BA have lost our custom for over ten years now - and we fly a lot.
Simon Ruffle, UK
I find the whole BA affair a disgrace, compounded by the fact that passengers were eventually able to fly, but without their luggage. What has happened to the security requirement for a passenger to accompany their bags on planes. We are led to believe that if a passenger doesn't board a plane after checking in, their luggage would be removed. Now it seems your baggage can go on one plane while you travel on another.
Maybe the time has come to give Virgin and the other airlines more landing slots at Heathrow. If BA cannot fix itself, let's take their slots away and give them to another airline.
Nigel Pond, Brit living in the USA
I have been working in a Japanese Company for the past 8 years. For anybody who is late for more than 5 minutes in a month there is a deduction from their salary. We have had the system for the past 20 years and find no problem at all. It is a fair system.
All of those criticising the Unions and BA staff for standing up to their bosses are the ones being selfish. If you were being forced to work annualised hours, reducing you to being a puppet of your employer would you put the company's customer's interests before yours? Personally I very much doubt it.
Greg Brown, UK
I spend many thousands of pounds with BA every year. Well, no longer. The Gold Card has gone in the bin.
Alastair Robertson, Switzerland
The unions are threatening both passenger schedules and British Airways livelihood. I find it incredulous that the unionised staff at BA opposes having their work hours tracked. I find it appalling that they are unable to fathom the economic reality of airlines worldwide in a post 9-11 world. How much money does British Airways have to loose before the unions realise the severity of the situation?
Firstly, I'd like to express my apologies and regret to our passengers who have suffered in the recent industrial action and those who may become affected by any future action. This action could easily be avoided if the BA management could discuss any new working practises that they wish to introduce. I have worked for this company for 15 years and can honestly say the last 5 years have seen the most appalling. I must also say that I do not agree with the weekend's wildcat strike; it was irresponsible but, in the circumstances, understandable.
A BA Engineer,
Why in God's name would BA management pick the middle of the high season to place a new employee clock system? I used to fly with BA years ago but stopped when the flight personnel became too bossy. I am scheduled to go to Heathrow on BA in Aug, but after this, I will never fly with BA again and would discourage anyone I know from flying with BA.
Every time I fly to Europe I use BA. Regardless of when they clock in or clock out the service staff of BA are top notch. The excellent service is worth the wait.
Ryan T. Mahon,
The comments that I have been reading from BA check-in staff are immature and they should be ashamed of themselves. I'm sure there are many others who would appreciate doing these jobs. Anyone striking for this absurd reason should be dismissed and BA management should provide cover.
It seems that BA's haughty and arrogant attitude towards its customers and staff has finally backfired on them. For years BA have treated people like inanimate objects - so I for one am rather pleased that the consequences of their deplorable conduct have finally come back to haunt them.
C. Hunter, England
I am absolutely dumbfounded by the crass stupidity of the BA workforce - at a time when their industry is struggling they do their best to destroy the company they work for. I believe strongly in workers rights - but these people deserve to lose their jobs - which should be given to people who are interested in working for a living.
Dave Elliot, UK
BA employees are being asked to adopt a swipe-card system that most European companies adopted years ago. We have had swipe-cards for years to record our comings and goings. It is perfectly reasonable for any employer to want an accurate record of hours worked by staff. After all, they are paying the wages.
UK & The Netherlands
I travel for a living and make about 75 flights a year. It is absolutely clear that strike action will lead to lost customers who will not tolerate disruption. There are masses of other airlines competing for our business. Lost customers equals lost revenue. The unions have a strange way of protecting the people they represent!
Some of the comments on here are a disgrace. The right to strike is of paramount importance, and it is only through this and even more militant actions that we have the working conditions that we have today. If these rights are not defended, they will be lost.
As for finding another job - regardless of the fact that that is not a practical possibility for many - we all deserve dignified and rewarding working conditions, wherever we work.
I'd like to thank the BA staff for their lightening strike which ruined my weekend and for causing my luggage to be lost. A week later it still hasn't been found. I hope the lot of them get sacked.
Don't turn up to work? You should be sacked. My thoughts are with the thousands who, in some cases, have had an event of a lifetime destroyed by the selfish actions of these BA staff that think they are paid to do what they like when they like. You get paid to work? Then work. Don't like it? Resign.
I am a BA staff member at Heathrow and I am incensed by the email read out on the 6 o'clock news sent by an alleged ex-member of staff. I have worked at Heathrow for 14 years and I can assure you it is totally untrue that we can turn up or leave at anytime without being monitored. I and most of my colleagues are extremely conscientious about our time keeping and we are reviewed if we are late three times within 3 months. I am offended and insulted by your biased report.
I work for BA and I can only say what the staff did last Friday was industrial sabotage. The airline has to modernise if it needs to survive. We are all contractually allowed to work 37.5 hours, so why is BA not in its right to ensure this? Its estimated to have cost the airline 20 million pounds and now the engineers are thinking about going on strike. Are they stupid? Why haven't our staff woken up to reality. They get a final salary pension scheme, great travel perks and now they want to jeopardise it all. BA employs around 45,000 people. Perhaps people should think of other members of staff before they strike and destroy the reputation of the company once and for all and risk the employment of many others.
I've worked for BA customer service at Heathrow Terminal 1 for the past 6 years and fully support my colleagues actions. This "walkout" was not just about clocking in/out, but about management's decision to just impose this without taking our views into consideration. Rod Eddington has just awarded himself a large fat cat bonus. This was the last straw for a demotivated and underpaid workforce. The majority of press reports are inaccurate and tell half of the full story. The "walkout" did not take place to upset and anger our passengers but to prick up the ears of a management who decide to ignore their employees rights.
I work for British Airways in one of their two main North American Call Centres. On Saturday I was called at home with the BA 'Management' pleading with me to come to work. Of course I said no. Why? Why should I voluntarily give up my time for a company that plainly uses an ATR system to bully and subjugate its employees. When I sign in to the system even one minute late am greeted with the words "Late - disciplinary event". This is usually followed by a twenty minute 'feedback' session to discipline me for being one minute late. (Great use of time there BA).
It's about time the 'Management' of BA realised their employees could be their greatest asset instead of treating us with such contempt.
Anonymous, North America
It is clear from the responses posted that there is a staff relations problem at BA. It appears that all those that walked out are members of a union. I thought that's what being a member of a union was all about - you leave your union negotiators to negotiate whilst you get on with your job. I really think the British people can have some sympathy with your cause although it seems to me you are anticipating problems have not happened elsewhere. All I can say is have more respect for your customers, and if you can't put them first then you should try other employment.
Michael Shellard, England
I'm due to fly back to UK next week on BA. I've already identified 2 alternatives if another strike looks likely. If the staff keep this up they soon won't have a company to argue with or work for. Many staff work with airlines, in spite of low basic wages, because of the perks associated with the business - most upgraded passengers appear to be airline staff, not the regular paying customer. I enjoy flying with BA, but like their employees my motives are also selfish and if BA's staff don't provide what I need I'll go elsewhere. Harsh reality of life, but every industry looks for the best value for its investment - it's not unimaginable that the airline could relocate to another country with lower staff costs.
Iain Murray, Saudi Arabia
I was unlucky enough to be part of the chaos that was the departures area terminal 4 Heathrow on Sunday 20th July. I stood with my luggage for 8 hours waiting to be booked in for my Qantas flight. We were due to depart at 2205 but still hadn't been processed for the flight at that time. At 2230 most of the BA desk staff got up and left hundreds of people waiting to be checked in. Their shift may have been finished but the job wasn't. Thank you to the few BA & Qantas staff who worked overtime to get QF10 out at 4am Monday 21st July. So much for the OneWorld partnership. Qantas customers beware!
Well, our flight to Frankfurt was cancelled on the 18th. Luckily we managed to find a place to stay for the night. The next day (19th) we called BA Reservations. They booked us on another flight, same day, 3pm. Having arrived at Heathrow for the second time we were told that BA staff were on strike again! All flight until 3pm were cancelled. Half an hour later a public announcement informed us that all flights are cancelled and that all BA passengers should leave the terminal immediately... They even said that it might not get any better on Sunday or Monday. We then decided to take the EuroStar to Paris, hired a car in Paris and drove back home to Germany. What a nightmare trip! Thanks BA.
H & E Harrack, UK/Germany
My granddad's flight was cancelled on Saturday the 19th. Our only source of information regarding BA strike's was on BBC news. The biggest frustration was to not be able to get through on BA's helpline as it was continually busy. If only we had been able to speak to someone, we would have felt reassured. He has finally managed to get a flight to Lisbon tomorrow, Friday 25th, 6 days later. So although the "backlog" of passengers has been cleared at Heathrow, many more await at home for alternative flights.
Of course it could have been averted. What's happened is the result of incompetent managers and union representatives taking grandstand positions. The swipe-card technology is being introduced everywhere, mostly without fuss: the fuss in BA arises from a lack of trust and respect between managers and workers. People working together will resolve problems together; someone needs to sort out the BA personnel structure once and for all.
John M, LyneMeads, UK
Staff / unions have the right to be consulted over changes to working practices, they also have the right to take industrial action in support of their cause. They do not however have the right to strike without balloting their members. This is a breach of Trade Union policy as well as their employment contracts. The GMB should demonstrate it's resolve to implement fair working practices in a responsible fashion by expelling those members who walked out.
I question the wisdom of BA in creating an issue like this after the turmoil in the airline business over the last few years. Surely the their timing could have been better or do they have an ulterior motive? Are they looking for job cuts and hoping to save some redundancy pay by sacking striking workers instead?
BA staff and management seem to think that their trivial dispute is of more earth-shattering importance than the serious damage and distress caused to their customers. I was a victim of this customer hate campaign on Monday and received a lecture on the nature of the dispute from a BA staff member while 10 feet away an elderly passenger with hip problems who had been waiting and queuing for hours was in tears of pain. In the end the flight she and I were booked on departed before anyone could be checked in, but nobody bothered to tell us and we stood in the check-in queue for hours unnecessarily. I don't know why BA don't replace all their staff with those nice automatic kiosks - they're much nicer.
Alan M, UK
What this strike illustrates is how pathetic and inconsiderate these people are. What right have they to spoil the travel and/or holiday plans of others? How would they feel if it had happened to them? They know only too well, and that is why they chose their timing so carefully. What do these people do anyway? (weigh luggage and check passport details, oh and allocate window seats when asked for. All sounds rather complicated to me!). Maybe the check-in system could be completely automated and they could be dispensed with altogether. Like probably most of the country I'm fed up with people like this using the public as a pawn in their games with their employers.
I flew BA last weekend leaving the UK on Thursday and returning on Monday. Both flights were on time and I could not fault the service of the BA staff either on the ground or in the air. Whilst I may be very lucky what happened at BA last weekend raises questions about the quality of management. Industrial relations must improve or BA will cease to exist in due course.
Paul G, UK
Yes it could have been averted. BA should have contingency plans if this happens and customer service should be at the forefront of this. It hasn't been. Things like this happen, but what really makes people hate a company is the way they handle customers during situations like this. Treating people like cattle and expecting them to spend entire days just standing on a pavement with no information from the company from who they have purchased a service is despicable. The Customer Services Director who has appeared on television so often should resign.
My family and I were affected by a previous "wild cat" strike by BA employees a couple of years back. Our flight was cancelled, standing us in Florida (it could have been worse). Eventually we were put on a very low quality charter flight to Stansted with only the offer to bus us back to Gatwick which didn't really suit us.
BA offered nothing in the way of apology or compensation, but what annoyed me more was that they said it was beyond their control as they could not be responsible for the action of their staff!
That they could distance themselves from their staff like this seems to indicate to me there is a big gulf between the management and staff of BA, and consequently it is not surprising you get problems like this.
If Network Rail budgeted incorrectly, their budget management is flawed and the managers responsible should be sacked. If the cost has suddenly increased, then the procurement contract wasn't tight enough so the procurement team should be sacked. If something so utterly core to Network Rail can go wrong, the board of management of Network Rail who are responsible for this need to be sacked. Enough of incompetent directors - sack them and bring in some brains for a change who aren't full of old thinking and the conventional sky-high procurement agreements.
BA should have trained others to do this job in the event of an emergency like this, but the unions would object to that. This is why restrictive practices destroyed the ship building industry.
If it wasn't for past government subsidies to BA they would not be here today. The customer should always come first. Sack the lot of them!
What everyone needs is more information on what the problem is here and the staff shouldn't just to have wildcat strikes. If it's worthwhile doing, have an official one and let everyone know about it. Unofficial walkouts with no notice don't get the public behind you.
Emma Watson, UK
Can we please encourage BA to drop the word "British" from their name? They are no longer a state company and most Brits would probably rather not be associated with them. Perhaps we could have a few suggestions for a new name - Whelk Stall Airlines would do for a start.
Note to Al: How about Pedal and Flap Airways?
Brit living in the USA
The chaos and sheer disruption caused could have been an ideal opportunity for terrorists to strike. In addition to that, the BA top brass should consider the monetary cost of this fiasco and heads should roll.
We were caught up in the mess on Saturday afternoon. I remember saying to another disgruntled customer "Well it least it makes the Tube look good."
Tim, Hong Kong
How ridiculous that with all the business knowledge we have, something as important as this is decided in a series of talks throughout the night over a couple of days. It's as silly as government sitting into the early hours making policy decisions. We all know how mistakes are made when we're tired, how we're in no fit state to drive, let alone make decisions that affect thousands.
BA should not squander money on newspaper apology ads¿ they should give the money to charity so people may benefit from other people's 'misery'.
Nigel McPheat, UK
All of a sudden the ground staff walked off, apparently to a meeting and only at 10.30 were we told that flights would be cancelled. I have no problem with BA staff striking, but they could do so by giving a minimum notice to avoid havoc. To make the situation worse, I was then rerouted by BA onto an American Airline flight, but I only had an e-ticket and AA would not accept me without a paper ticket. I don't know who is right and who is wrong in this dispute! But I know that passengers like me were unfairly penalised for choosing to fly BA!
Paolo, London, UK
I find it heartening to see a group of workers cry 'enough' over unfair changes imposed by their employers. BA's management has clearly misjudged the mood of their staff, or simply chosen to ignore their feelings. Other companies in the UK should take note of what is happening at BA.
Let's face it, we're all buying cheaper and cheaper flights and rejecting BA. They're forced to reduce their overheads which is bound to impact their staff somewhere along the line. Why can't staff see that changes have got to be made for the company to survive? Their selfishness has damaged the fragile company even more risking their jobs far more than some poxy swipecard system. People like Martin might like the idea of BA workers standing up for their rights but I'm sure he'd be the first to book Ryanair rather than BA because they're cheaper and drive another BA staff member to the dole queue.
Phillip Holley, London
I fly with British Airways (they should keep British in the name) as a matter of choice because of the network they fly. If the staff feel that they are being unfairly treated then they can vote with their feet and work for some other airline, but perhaps the current deal they have with BA they cannot get from another airline. Further strikes will only result in job losses, its your choice.
Thomas Walker, UK
Everyone loses, don't they. The staff, the passengers, lost jobs and ruined holidays. When will companies learn that their most valuable resource is their employees? I have experienced the unhappy flight crews on Air Canada many times. Air Canada is bankrupt, does BA want to go down the same (flight)path?
Nick Green, Canada
Thanks to the (last minute) disruption last Friday, I didn't get home until Saturday evening.
I honestly cannot see why the staff are protesting, especially if other BA staff already use this system without issues. The rest of the world "clocks in and out" of work, whether it's by line-of-sight to the boss, or by swipe card. The paper-based system is open to abuse and is not working.
My flight from Heathrow to Glasgow was cancelled on Saturday. We had just flown in on a red eye from Cyprus. We were greeted by scenes of total chaos. We got varied messages from BA staff. In the end we were told there would be no flights till Monday.
I am thoroughly disgusted at how I and my fiancée were treated. I had only just proposed to her on the last night of our holiday. I had to use my ring savings to pay for transport to Glasgow. I was upset and angry, she was in tears. BA will have to go some way to restore out faith in the company.
We eventually got a train back to Glasgow, which broke down outside Crewe! After 10 hours on a carriage without air conditioning we eventually arrived in Glasgow.
I was in all that mess at LHR on Saturday. My flight was cancelled three times when we were just about to check in. The flight was scheduled at 3pm and BA staff did not allow us to check until 4:05pm. By 4:35pm the plane was already gone. BA staff did not know what to say about that. I will definitely NOT flight again with BA again.
Firstly, BA should be open and honest about the use of the information gathered through this time monitoring system. From what I can see, this is the case.
Secondly, if this is such an issue, why do other BA staff use the system across the country without grumbling?
Finally, the staff concerned should not take this out on the customer. My flight was cancelled; I incurred extra costs and could only get onto a flight a three-hour train ride away from my destination. I was lucky - I got home 18 hours late.
Keep going like this, and there will be no reason to strike as the airline will be out of business.
The clear winners are the low cost airlines who tend to be the most punctual.
It's a disgrace that the unions could take action over something so trivial. Get with the programme, for goodness sake! I think the public should be suing the unions for loss of money and time, and for the sheer inconvenience.
My first flight was cancelled as soon as I arrived at Heathrow. During the ensuing chaos, I was rebooked onto another flight. Thanks to the check in staff walking out for a second time, I was told I didn't have a hope of travelling for the rest of the weekend.
As I was due to return on Monday anyway, in the end, I had to rely on a last minute flight from one of the budget carriers (who BA claim to be more reliable than!) from Stansted! As it turned out, I missed the purpose of my visit which was my friend's wedding on the Saturday!
Rich Mason, UK
Last Friday evening, my flight from Spain got diverted to Bristol just 20 minutes before it was due to land at Heathrow, requiring a detour of 3.5 hours duration before I reached my destination. The striking BA staff should realise that the 100,000 disgruntled and miserable passengers will switch to another airline and the jobs of striking staff will still be at risk from a weakened BA, with or without the new 'clocking on/off' system.
My mother was taken ill in Spain on 10 June. She had two emergency operations and was on a life support machine for a week. She was so ill that we didn't expect her to survive. Last week she was cleared to return home and a nurse from the UK was arranged to accompany them home, oxygen on the aircraft, ambulance to meet her at Heathrow. She was due to travel Saturday 19 July. Everything was packed and my father had given up his accommodation, when at the last minute on Friday night all was cancelled because of the strike. They are still at the hospital in Spain waiting to be brought home.
Jackie James, UK
Although I have every sympathy with those whose travel arrangements were affected, my wholehearted support goes to the BA staff. In this day and age you simply do not impose changes. Given BA's industrial relations and methods over the years I think the staff have every reason to be suspicious. Quite frankly, having travelled BA on a few occasions recently they would be no loss to the airline world.
David Vousden, UK
David, thank you for your kind comments. I work for BA in a call centre. We weren't advised of any strike by our 'colleagues' in Heathrow. I have to sign in. I've known people who have been reported for lateness when they have been 30 seconds late. My phone tracks my every move. I'm even timed how long I take a toilet break for. For the record, if I'm to hit my monthly target, I am only allowed a maximum of seven minutes toilet break a day on top of my breaks and lunches.
I then leave (not a minute early or that would be disciplinary), then swipe my card to leave the building. I get paid 12 grand a year full time. I (and my 500 colleagues) are the ones getting the abuse off the delayed and cancelled passengers. Thank you to all the striking staff in BA. I'm now looking for another job.
Anon (BA staff who isn't on strike), UK
Last time my husband flew with BA his £2,000 laptop was stolen under BA's care; not to mention the 10 hour delay beforehand and all his luggage being sent to the wrong airport. BA offered us £350 for the stolen laptop and no apology. They caused our family much misery and grief and lightened our bank balances as well.
Caroline Poole, UK
I loved working for BA and the staff truly make BA what it is. What you do not know is that management are also trying to implement annualised hours which means staff will be sent home to come back later when it is busier. We'll spend most of our time trying to swap with our colleagues to organise childcare and run our lives like any other normal person. Has anyone thought about annualised mortgages? Are they going to pay our petrol to get to and from the airport twice a day? Now can you see the implications. Normal working people will certainly not put up with having to go to work there and back on numerous occasions every day, would you?
I fully support the staff. The whole idea of clocking in and out is archaic and treats adults as children. What people don't realise is that when clocking off/in is computerised, you can then be required to clock off for breaks, for going to the toilet etc giving the employer a lot more control over your life. Good luck to the staff.
Luckily I'm not flying anywhere soon and if I do fly it won't be with BA. What do the staff hope to achieve? They have already lost BA lots of money and customers through their strike meaning many of them will probably have to be laid off in the future as BA won't be able to afford to hire them. Well done! Surely there was a better way to get their point across without causing so much misery for so many people?
I am a regular user of British Airways because of their frequent and extensive location network as well as their high level of service. In a very tough environment for the aviation industry, these strikers put at risk this reputation and therefore their own jobs. They probably look to Air France employees and see their success when striking but they are government owned so their jobs are safe. BA are not, time for sense.
The disruption is terribly unfortunate for travellers. Thankfully I was not delayed on Monday when flying back to LHR. As a regular BA flyer on business trips this strike will most definitely not affect my choice of carrier for business trips. Having tried many others I can honestly say that BA is the best. I cannot imagine that many high spending business travellers would change their choice of carrier as a result of this sorry episode.
As far as I can tell, millions of workers in this country clock in and out for their shift. I can understand the concerns of staff at Heathrow, but if BA give a written, binding agreement that the new system will not force people to work to new, uncomfortable working hours, where is the problem? To use pen and paper to sign in and out for your shift is archaic and open to abuse, and computerising this method will benefit those who get to work on time by punishing those who make life awkward by coming to work late.
Chris, Oxford, UK
I believe in proper staff management but can see no justification whatsoever for a strike as a result of a change in the method of recording arrival and departure times - only people who want to cheat are in danger. I think the whole lot should be sacked - there are thousands of others waiting for their jobs if they don't want them.
David Elliot, UK