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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 August 2005, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Were you affected by BA dispute?
Passengers at Heathrow
Talks between union leaders and the catering firm at the heart of a dispute which brought chaos to thousands of passengers are set to resume on Monday.

Most British Airways flights from Heathrow were grounded, and around 70,000 passengers were stranded after unofficial strike action on Thursday.

BA baggage handlers, loaders and bus drivers walked out in sympathy after the sacking of 670 staff from Gate Gourmet - the firm that provides the airline's in-flight meals.

Were your travel plans interrupted? Were you stranded at another airport? Or did you take part in the strike?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Stephen Fox, Australia
I wanted to fly from Sydney to London today but the BA strike has stopped me. What should happen to people who go on unofficial strike?

I was stuck on a plane for eight hours; we had boarded, our luggage was on, the ramp was retracted, and the ground staff decided to stage a walkout. We couldn't disembark because a license is needed to operate the ramp, we couldn't leave because the plane needs to be pushed back. Stuck for eight hours with kids throwing up, and no food thanks to Gate Gourmet. I have no sympathy for the BA ground staff who walked out illegally. There was no consideration for passengers whatsoever.
Brian Reilly, Athens, Greece

BA gets the blame and cost of an external dispute and wildcat strikes. The strikers should be sacked and Gate Gourmet must surely lose its contract.
Robin, Entebbe, Uganda

I will be flying by BA in a few days to Mexico and I'm concerned about the security aspect of it, in particular the prospect of extremists taking advantage of security breaches opened during the disruption of the flights. I mean, is it not possible that any of these fanatics have taken the opportunity to pass as ground-based workers of BA? It'd be reassuring to hear that corresponding authorities are addressing the possibility of such threats.
Gabriel Moreno, Lewisham, London

We live under the Heathrow flight path and are quite enjoying the peace and quiet
Liz, Kingston, Surrey
My husband managed to change his flight to BA out of Gatwick in good time to be where he needed to be. We sympathise with the workers, they have been treated very badly and BA absolves itself from blame by farming out its contracts. By the way, we live under the Heathrow flight path and are quite enjoying the peace and quiet!
Liz, Kingston, Surrey

The BA workers should not have gone on strike in support of an external dispute. Those that did should be disciplined. However I must say that the TGWU seem to made real mess of this. Rather than preserving jobs they seem to have endangered all of the Gate Gourmet jobs by poor negotiation tactics.
Charles Smith, London, UK

Interesting how BA maintains it is the victim and that everything is out of its control. Is Gate Gourmet the only catering company - can't BA buy food from elsewhere? Is baggage handling such a fine art that casual labour cannot be brought in to cover?
Chris, Haslemere, UK

I was not personally affected but was interested to discover how far reaching the repercussions would be following the decision by the baggage handlers to take strike action.
Javaid Ramzan, Oldham, UK

We should all accept responsibility for demanding cheaper flights. This causes a price war which affects pay and conditions for workers. Everyone expects to travel without hassle but sometimes it's not possible.
Elaine, Bolton, England

Trade unions have no place in an economy with full employment
Paul, London, UK
Trade unions have no place in an economy with full employment. The difficulty businesses in the South East have in finding half decent workers gives individual employees more than enough bargaining power. Three cheers for the Gate Gourmet management. British Airways must now follow their lead and take the opportunity to rid themselves of their own TGWU members.
Paul, London, UK

It looks as though Gate Gourmet will go bust so the workers who were not sacked will now lose their jobs too. If enough people stop using BA because of uncertainty they too will have to get rid of their workforce, of decent hard working people as well as frequent strikers. I do not imagine the government will bale out an airline with a non-working workforce and no passengers. BA has to compete with the other cheaper airlines.
Robert, Henley

What is this country coming to? People go on unofficial strike ie just don't bother going to work. Ok, they may have had their reasons but everyone has responsibilities. If they don't want to go to work or don't like working for their company why don't they just resign?
Nicola, UK

Less dependence on Heathrow should be in BA's future plans
Andy Stevens, Glasgow, UK
If something goes wrong at Heathrow, be it industrial action, or any other incident, BA grinds to a halt worldwide. It can't last. This strike while understandable may well be in the realm of turkeys voting for Christmas. Less dependence on Heathrow should be in BA's future plans.
Andy Stevens, Glasgow, UK

My family use BA every year to fly to and from Phoenix Arizona as it is the only direct flight from the UK. Next year our grandson (10) hopes to fly unaccompanied to visit us. We shall review this plan in the light of the current events. I cannot imagine how we would have managed to meet him in the current chaos.
Karol Griffiths, Milford Haven, Wales

How can people react so harshly to people simply standing up for what they believe is right? I don't think it's fair to say that the dispute had 'nothing to do' with the unofficial strikers. How your employers treat their workforce does affect you, and it's in anyone's interest to make a statement of what is and isn't acceptable.
Steve Jacqueline Doran, Kent, UK

Some people are saying it is unfair to blame BA as it was the workers who were out on strike. The problem is, because of the actions of the strikers, many people will now book future flights with other airlines whose staff are not prone to striking when they feel like it.
Neil Small, Scotland

I wonder if all these people who say they support the strikers would have felt the same if it was their holidays, weddings, and business journeys etc that were going down the pan. They should all be sacked.
Ken, UK

They deserve our contempt, not our support
Rob G, Kansas City, USA
The baggage handlers have a contract with BA and they should have honoured that agreement. They deserve our contempt, not our support. How would they feel if BA simply stopped paying their organised workers in support of another company suffering labour problems?
Rob G, Kansas City, USA

I'm checking in for a flight to Beijing and BA staff gave me money because there will be no food on board at all!
Judy Everett, London, UK

I don't disagree with people striking if it's done the legal way and I feel sorry for the Gate Gourmet employees who have lost their jobs but I really hope my BA colleagues who walked out on Thursday get their P45.Most people at BA have been working hard to make the company turn the corner. BA made a profit this financial year and shared it with its employees. Thank you to all of you who just decided to walk out on our customers who, don't forget, pay for our salaries.
BA cabin crew, Gatwick

BA should take strong action against this illegal strike. When fair play is ignored there should be consequences to those who supported this.
Dee White, USA

The media are doing more harm to BA than the strike
Roy Thomson, Alness UK
The media are doing more harm to BA than the strike, making it sound as if it was the fault of BA. and what of the other airline who were also disrupted. And why oh why doesn't someone sue the union for compensation? It's high time they were held to account.
Roy Thomson, Alness UK

I arrived on Thursday 11 August on BA084 from Vancouver, was kept on the tarmac for six hours, arrivals for one hour, taxi queue for one hour and told to leave without my luggage. I have not received my luggage and have not been allowed to search for it. I am very frustrated!
Mrs. Catherine Bickersteth, London, England

To go on strike legally means a ballot of the members of whatever union must be a majority vote. This was never carried out. Therefore the people who withdrew their labour have broken the law. Sack them.
Brian, UK

The workforce involved in this dispute originally was Gate Gourmet. Why are you attacking BA management?
Andrew Fawkes, Pegeia, Paphos, Cyprus

The trade union should pay for the damage caused by the BA staff having an unofficial strike for failing to rein in their members. It's either this or they are disciplined. I thought we left behind this illegal action before I was born?
Joseph Cullen, Luton, Bedfordshire

This just makes the case for holidaying at home.No problems regarding airport delays here, & this week the weather has been comfortably in the low 20's.Never mind "fly the flag" just do the patriotic thing & spend your money in Britain's glorious resorts.
Dave, England

I work for BA and like many of my colleagues deplore the actions of the few that caused so much disruption to so many people. I [like many others], volunteered to man the terminals to help our customers over the weekend. I expected to face a lot of angry passengers but was totally unprepared for their understanding, patience and courtesy. I am so sorry for the disruption to your travel plans but wanted to say thank you all.
David, Ruislip, UK

They all should have more loyalty to their employer first, not another company's employees
Steve, Ascot, UK
I have had to stay in China over the weekend due to flight delays back to the UK as a result of this so-called strike. It's about time BA got tough with its workforce and got a clear no sympathy strike agreement at risk of severe disciplinary action. The baggage handlers who started this sympathy strike should be disciplined now for causing such chaos and cost to BA when it's not even their strike. They all should have more loyalty to their employer first, not another company's employees at the expense of their own.
Steve, Ascot, UK

My wife and I have just arrived back this morning from Rio on BA246. We didn't have to lift a finger, all day Friday and Saturday morning, the BA staff were contacting us by phone and fax to keep us up to date with the situation. On the plane, basic food packs were handed out, which were nothing special, but in first the Cabin Crew had been shopping and managed to rustle up a tasty snack for us. The other passengers all mucked in, and brought their own wine, snacks and champagne. It just goes to show the resilience of the British lives on! Full marks to BA and their cabin crew. The flight even landed on time. I'll still be after a refund though!
Duncan Lamb, London, UK

Whatever you think of the baggage handlers, it's pretty obvious that they were so willing to take illegal secondary action because of previous grievances with BA. Gate Gourmet's problems with its own staff were merely a catalyst.
Steve, Bristol, UK

BA should definitely drop their slogan 'the world's favourite airline'
Dougie Hamilton, Dubai
As a result of the BA strikes, I missed onward connections to Dubai. A huge bill for an extra flight (with a proper airline) had to be paid by myself - thanks BA! BA should definitely drop their slogan 'the world's favourite airline'!!
Dougie Hamilton, Dubai

The chaos at British airports and the inconvenience to airline passengers have definitely dented the reputation of British Airways considerably. Perhaps this flagship has still a lot to learn from competitors like Singapore Airlines on people management, employees and passengers.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium

We were stranded in Bangkok On Friday 12th August when trying to get to Sydney. My wife and I would like to thank BA for the fantastic efforts they made to ensure our delay was as comfortable as possible. Their service was fantastic although we had 3 trips to the airport and two nights in an excellent hotel. We eventually arrived in Sydney late Sunday evening. We have always flown BA from Australia to England every year and shall happily continue to do so.
Wilf Faulkner, Sydney, Australia

I am a cabin crew member for British Airways and very proud of the company I work for. The staff that work directly with our customers have worked really hard to try and rectify the situation. Many staff have worked on their days off "voluntarily" (with no pay) to help out, so well done to all of you who have helped! If it wasn't for these people then the situation would be even worse. I am disappointed with the actions take over the last couple of days, it is fair to say that most of us are "employees" and sometimes you have to stand up to "employers" when your working conditions are affected. So please find out the facts before you make judgement.
Sarah, Kent

There must be better ways to negotiate in 2005 than striking
G, Peterborough, Cambs
We were one of the lucky families that got our flight out of Newark to Heathrow on Saturday night as scheduled. I felt very sorry for the cabin staff who were in the front line of passenger complaints and were unfailingly polite and helpful when the situation was beyond their control. There were no hot meals but adequate vouchers were provided for food in the airport before departure, and hot and cold drinks and "snack trays" were provided during the flight. The worldwide disruption caused is unforgivable - there must be better ways to negotiate in 2005 than striking.
G, Peterborough, Cambs

'Sack the strikers' seems to be a popular cry here. And what about BA employing a company with such low ethics that it sacks staff at the drop of a hat? Maybe think twice before flying BA again and about the cheapskate suppliers they utilise.
Ian Bartlett, Chesham, UK

While walking home from work in Westminster on Friday I saw man with a suit case sleeping on street because he couldn't get his flight home and didn't think it was worth going to Heathrow. These illegal strikers have been completely inconsiderate to those who have been harmed by their actions.
Magnus, London (Sweden expat)

Good luck to those claiming compensation. I was caught in the last terminal 1 fiasco two summers ago - which was directly BA staff. Despite the publicity and promises of compensation, I received just 40 paid direct to my cc acct - I lost a flight LHR/MAN. No compensation for the delay, own cost of getting home.
Keith, Warrington, UK

While there may be rights and wrongs on both sides, this is no way to solve disputes
Graham Shelton, Oxford, England

BA did a great job of getting me back from the US under appallingly difficult conditions. Thank you. Now we need to tackle the real labour relations issues. While there may be rights and wrongs on both sides, this is no way to solve disputes. Unless both unions and management can learn to act in a more tolerant and reasonable way, BA will go the way of Rover and most of the rest of our large employers: no company, no jobs, no future. This situation calls for leadership of a high order: from the government, from the company and especially from the unions. So let's hear it, see it and act it, before it's too late.
Graham Shelton, Oxford, England

Just got back from LA on BA 278 departing LAX Saturday. Plane was three and half hours late leaving. We had no food or alcoholic drinks on board, only soft drinks, tea and coffee. BA gave us $35 meal vouchers beforehand and advised we buy food for the flight. They also gave us an "All Day Deli" food box which contained mainly sweet items, cheese and biscuits. BA staff remained courteous and helpful throughout.
Louis Harvey, London UK

Sack the strikers. Wildcat action like this brought the country to its knees in the 70's. Let us not go back to that way of life. If they don't want to work, get people who do.
Kirk Marriott, London, UK

If after working alongside a colleague for 10 years his job is "outsourced" by the company and then a year later have his employment conditions reduced, then I believe I would still consider him a colleague and as such would consider a sympathetic strike to be justified. Surely since these people were employed together for so long it can be argued this is not a secondary industrial action. The realities of working relationships must over-ride those of manufactured employer relationships.
Joseph Postin, Tamworth UK

All the passengers I have served have all been very patient and understanding.
A, London, UK
I work for BA on the ground. No-one from my section walked out, having read some of the comments about the poor salaries of the Gate Gourmet staff, I would like to say that I am better paid - but I'm not! I did not walk out ands have just spent 4 days (so far) rebooking passengers as best we could onto other airlines, the reason we try to book onto other airlines is because there may be delays or more cancellations, while we get aircraft/crew and flight deck back into position. All the passengers I have served have all been very patient and understanding even though their travel plans have been so badly disrupted. I can't understand why some BA staff should walk out over a dispute within another company, if that is going to be the case they could be walkouts everyday after the morning paper have been read to see who is today's worthy cause! Some staff seem to forget that passengers pay their wages, I'd hazard a guess that the main culprits are on 'old contracts', non customer facing staff, who think they are untouchable, they should be ashamed of themselves.
A, London, UK

Compliments to BA. I was meant to fly back from Chicago to London with BA last night. When I tried to check in at Chicago I was told that all BA flights were cancelled. I must say BA handled the situation very well in Chicago. They explained the situation to everyone and then handed each person a letter explaining the situation too. BA then booked all the remaining seats to London on United Airlines, American Airlines, and Air France. BA told everyone to patient and that they would deal with everyone in turn. The staff were excellent and very professional. BA put me on the 1610 United Airlines flight to Heathrow and I arrived back this morning at terminal 3 earlier than the BA flight I was meant to arrive! I was travelling in business class with BA and they gave me a business ticket for United Airlines - economy passengers were treated equally well. Good luck to everyone else!
Tim Hind, London, England

The baggage handlers aren't facing the sack; they're just holding the country hostage to show they can. That is just what brought the country to its knees in the 1970s. They should be sacked.
Harry Jones, London UK

I fully support all the people who have walked out. It seems to me a totally unfair dismissal, and I'm sure that if anyone who calls these people 'inconsiderate', they would feel the same, had they lost their jobs in such a cold and thoughtless way.
Philip Herbst, Reading, UK

For the last year, I have been travelling around the world working as a nurse and holidaying. I was due to fly home today from Cape Town, but I have just found out that my flight has been cancelled. I am bitterly disappointed not to be seeing my family and friends. I am not sure even now when I will be able to get home. I think that it is very unfair. I respect my job and my patients far too much to ever take part in a strike!
Katy Brown, Bath

It's a pity the BA ground staff didn't show the same solidarity when thousands of their BA colleagues were being squeezed out of their jobs over the last few years. I don't remember any walk-outs when BA announced I was surplus to requirements and yet I note from comments below that it now seems there aren't enough people to answer the phones right now. Oh the irony of it all...
MJ, Glasgow, Scotland

These people who go on strike must be sacked - they are paid a reasonable salary for an unskilled job - they receive tax credit, housing benefit and child benefit from the tax payers of this country.
Vjay, London

One word from BA management and this dispute could have been settled
Mike G, Exeter, UK
The workforce at Gate Gourmet were treated appallingly; paid a pittance and then the company sacks hundreds of people with 3 minutes notice because they attended a union meeting. Even people who were off sick or on maternity leave were sacked! The luggage handlers were quite right to take solidarity action - one word from BA management and this dispute could have been settled. An effective union is the only to bullying managements like these.
Mike G, Exeter, UK





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