British Airways Strike

For a business venture to make profit, it is crucial to protect the image of the brand,
maintain a harmonious relationship between management and the workforce, and avoid financial
losses. A past experience of British Airways (BA) serves as an informative case study of a
company that suffered financially because of their failure to meet the three aforesaid imperatives.
Last July 18, 2003, British Airways suffered a major fiasco when their “staff in Terminals 1 and
4 at London’s busy Heathrow Airport held a 24-hour wildcat strike (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin,
2008, p.239).” Aside from the commotion it caused, the repercussion was disastrous for the
airline. The company approximately lost £40 million, its reputation badly damaged, and 100,000
customers were lost (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin, 2008, p. 239).
There were three interrelated issues on the wildcat strike. The immediate key issue was a
change implemented by BA management that the staff found unfavorable. This change was the
introduction of the swipe card—an electronic clocking-in device. On one hand, there was the BA
management. For them, the introduction of the swipe card was a means of modernizing the
company so as to enhance the efficiency of their staff and resources (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin,
2008, p.239). One BA official even went on to assert that “We needed to simplify things and
bring in the best system to manage people (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin, 2008, p.239).” On the
other hand, there was the standpoint of the staff. They protested against this change because it
was a “prelude to a radical shake-up in working hours, which would lead to loss of pay and
demands to work split shifts (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin, 2008, p.239).” The staff’s disposition
towards the swipe card system was summed up by a quote from one check-in worker who said
that “This used to be a job which we loved but we are now at the end of our tether. What comes
next? They will probably force us to swap...