BA dispute could do long term damage to brand, claims report

British Airways is in danger of causing long-term damage to its brand though its treatment of cabin crew, according to an academic report on behalf of the union Unite.

The report accuses BA management of “an embedded culture of bullying and authoritarianism” following its suspension or disciplining of more than 55 cabin crew members.

Its author, Professor Martin Upchurch of Middlesex University business school, writes: “The use of disciplinary action on such a scale . . . on the basis of reported comments or overheard private conversations is unprecedented.”

Professor Upchurch describes BA’s pursuit of injunctions to prevent strike action, recruitment of “strike breakers” and removal of travel concessions from striking crew as “aspects of a hardened and belligerent management stance to trade unions”.

His report, Creating a Sustainable Work Environment in BA: Implications of the 2010 Cabin Crew Dispute, warns the long-term impact on crew morale could be disastrous for BA.

“Cabin crew are the most important front-line staff in any airline’s operations in terms of customer satisfaction and corporate brand experience . . . All the evidence analysed by academics highlights the link between job satisfaction of staff, customer service and higher profits.”

BA cabin crew were due to conclude their second five-day strike in 11 days at midnight tonight, with a fresh five-day strike to begin on Saturday. The airline pledged to operate most flights as normal.

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