91% OF 8,800 British Airways members of British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA), a section of the UK’s largest trade union, Unite, have voted for industrial action if the carrier continues with its plans to enforce a newly introduced staff performance system.
Aside from pointing out that the current system works fairly for all sides, the principal point of concern regarding the newly introduced system is the instant performance reviews. British Airways has introduced a system whereby passengers and colleagues can now provide instant feedback on staff performance. The information is presented via a ‘dashboard’ which displays staff league tables and red warning lights warning if a cabin crew member’s performance has been rated as poor.
What cabin crew are concerned about is the fact that many passengers may well complain about elements of the service provided that are beyond cabin crew control, such as a faulty entertainment system or malfunctioning air conditioning, without making specific mention.
Matt Smith, a regional Unite officer, said: “Our members have voted overwhelmingly against the introduction of this flawed dashboard scheme. The BA management should note the enormous strength of feeling against this policy with what, we suspect, is a hidden agenda of future job losses. A perfectly adequate performance management policy already exists.
“It is completely unfair to expect them to be placed in a league table, competing against each other, over onboard issues that are clearly out of their control.
“Cabin crew time spent on these wasteful performance schemes is crew time not giving passengers value for money in a highly competitive premium market.”
In response to the Unite vote, BA said: “We can reassure our customers that they will experience no inconvenience as a consequence of this ballot result. Unite has been clear from the start that it would not take strike action.
“The system we have recently introduced includes feedback from customers about how they are looked after onboard. This sort of feedback is common in all industries and enables us to commend cabin crew who perform well and support those that need to improve.
“A similar system already exists for many crew. It allows us to offer our customers the very highest standards of service. We remain open to discussions with our cabin crew and their union representatives about this new system.”
This present situation follows hot on the heels of last month’s announcement by BA that unless 300 senior cabin managers accepted new terms and the job description of ‘customer service manager’, together with a £9,000 (US$11,800) p.a. pay cut, they would be made redundant.
National officer Oliver Richardson said: “We’ve put forward a number of different options to BA, but instead they are ploughing on with changes which will result in some senior cabin crew at Gatwick receiving a significant pay cut or losing their job.
“This is unacceptable. Our members play a central role in making BA one of the world’s favourite airlines and feel increasingly betrayed.
“Holding a gun to senior cabin crew by saying ‘accept the new role and a pay cut, or be made redundant’ is not the way you would expect such a well-respected airline to behave – especially when you consider their published profits.”
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