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BA Strike - Your Thoughts & Questions IV

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BA Strike - Your Thoughts & Questions IV

Old 17th Feb 2011, 14:18
  #481 (permalink)  
 
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It's a personal dispute, between two people with a flock of sheep in the middle.
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 15:21
  #482 (permalink)  
 
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What do people make of this (from another public forum):

Rob.Bedcrew - 17/02/2011 11:13 GMT

For anyone who does not believe that there has been a concerted UNION-busting agenda at BA, perhaps the following will give some an insight, into the twisted slanted and underhand policies being enacted against individuals who dare to have a voice.

For those who are unaware BA have formed a secret group under the heading "Leiden" which is specifically to deal with the current industrial dispute and to silence anyone who holds an opinion contrary to their own.

How many other employees may view this and wonder the possible implications, is anybody's guess and a stark warning of what may become.

Leiden for Beginners

British Airways have a number of policies and procedures each of which have been developed and agreed with the trade unions before being approved by the Employment Policy Council. These include EG901 which is the policy dealing with disciplinaries and EG102, the policy dealing with bullying and harassment. These and all other policies comply with and largely exceed ACAS guidelines which recommend a minimum possible standard. In accordance with ACAS, these policies and procedures are accessible, in that the details of each are published, and known by all British Airways employees and apply to all employees equally.

When, early last February, at the beginning of the industrial dispute,
cabin crew were being suspended in unusually large numbers, the trade union reps attention was drawn immediately to the fact that the managers involved, acting on behalf of the Company, seemed to have dispensed with normal policies and procedures, sometimes in part and sometimes in their entirety.

An example of this is that prior to this time, in accordance with EG901
3.4 if a crew member was suspected of wrong doing, their line manager or a duty line manager, depending on the nature/timing of the wrong doing, would decide whether it would be undesirable for the employee to remain at work and might therefore make a precautionary suspension of the employee.

Indeed, from February 2010 this remained the case as per the policy for all alleged offences unrelated to the industrial dispute. So if a crew
member was suspected of misusing their staff travel or the sickness policy for instance, they would be interviewed and the manager would make a decision based on that interview whether to suspend or not.

If, however the alleged offence was somehow related to the industrial
dispute the decision to suspend was not made by the manager as per the policy. The decision to suspend had already been made elsewhere prior to the suspension meeting. In the first two weeks of February, eighteen crew members were suspended for bullying and harassment and breeches of data protection for talking on facebook or on emails or text messages about the existence of a list of pilots training to work as crew during the strike to undermine the effect of that cabin crew strike. In each case the letter notifying the crew member of their suspension had been typed out prior to
the meeting. The decision to suspend was not made by the line manager carrying out the suspension. It was made elsewhere. This is in breach of the company policy EG901 part 3.4.

The Preliminary Investigation Team exists within BA to carry out
investigations into cabin crew members when an offence is alleged in all cases of disciplinary action whether or not the crew member is suspended. The team exists with this sole remit. They have always conducted, in a non-judgemental way, all such investigations and throughout the industrial dispute continued investigating all cases not related to the industrial dispute. All cases relating to the industrial dispute, from the very first case, were investigated by an outside team of managers brought in specifically for that purpose. These managers did not have the same experience as the PI team. They were unaware of custom and practice. They worked to ACAS minimum standards. They were far from thorough. They were
far from non-judgemental.

All dispute related preliminary investigations and hearings were held in one of two rooms; syndicate room 5 or 7. All non-dispute related cases are held elsewhere. There is a card outside each room in Waterside on which the purpose or titles of meetings are noted ie: this room is in use for.....In every dispute related case it was noted that the room is in use for "Backing BA". Backing BA refers to supporting the Company in its dispute with Unite.

Immediately then, if a case was related in some way to the dispute, crew were being treated differently from how they would have been treated were the case unrelated to the dispute. Their cases were treated differently solely by virtue of the fact that they were related to the dispute.

EG 102 is the policy dealing with bullying and harassment. There is a set procedure to follow if you feel you have been bullied and/or harassed. You should, in the first instance attempt to resolve the matter informally either directly with the alleged bully or through mediation with a third party. If this fails, an informal grievance should be brought which will be investigated by a manager. If unresolved, a formal grievance would then be investigated by a second manager. At that point, disciplinary action may be instigated by the manager. In the cases of all crew accused of bullying and harassment relating to the dispute, this procedure was dispensed with in its entirety. A pilot would make an allegation and the crew member was suspended. In most cases allegations were not even made, but rather, the company took the decision to suspend and instigate disciplinary action regardless and an allegation or a 'victim' sought later. In other departments and with regard to cases unrelated to the industrial dispute, normal EG102 procedures were followed. If the case was
related to the dispute, normal procedures were dispensed with. It is
difficult to suggest that this constitutes a breach of EG102 because it
was simply dispensed with entirely.

The accused crew members and/or their TU reps expressed concern at various stages of the disciplinary procedures that ordinary policies were not being followed. Concern was expressed repeatedly that in several cases there appeared to be either no original complaint or no victim. The manager in each case simply replied in the same set wording that if something is brought to their attention, as a concerned company, they had a duty to act. To test that theory on the 12th of April 2010, the BASSA Branch Secretary sent a number of threatening or bullying postings made by pilots on the BALPA forum to Tony McCarthy. Presumably, as a concerned company, they would have a duty to act. These postings could be compared directly to those made by Cabin Crew on facebook. For instance on facebook a number of crew mention a list of pilots training as crew. At no time do they mention the actual names of the pilots. Every crew member on that
facebook thread was suspended, suffering severe financial deficit and emotional distress. Every crew member received sanctions ranging from a two year final written warning to dismissal. Pilots, on the other hand who published the name, telephone number and email address of a specific crew member on their forum and talked about wanting a list of those who had been suspended and having them 'hung, drawn and quartered', were neither suspended or sanctioned. In every Cabin Crew case, concern that the Company was not acting equitably or fairly was expressed. In every case,
the response from the hearing managers was that they were convinced that the pilots involved were being treated in line with the Company's policies and procedures. To date no pilot who made a bullying and/or harassing statement on the BALPA forum has been disciplined in any way. The Company cannot, therefore demonstrate that they have acted equitably or fairly.

A pilot wrote a posting on the BALPA website informing pilots that he had been present at a meeting on the 3rd of February with senior BA management and with input from the 'head of the company himself' in which certain things were put in place that would expedite any disciplinary processes and which convinced him utterly that the Company were using all their extraordinary contacts across industry to leave no stone unturned in exposing and punishing anyone who might pose a threat to pilot volunteers. This posting was passed on to the union by a concerned pilot who is willing to testify to this and to the integrity of the postings (in that they were not tampered with). Though the writer of this posting subsequently became the main witness or the alleged victim in several cases, the Company would not allow accused crew or their reps to question this pilot in any case as is their right according to the ACAS Code of Practice and the Company policy which states that either side may call witnesses. Indeed no request to call any witness in any case was ever accommodated by the Company. This constitutes a breach of EG 901 3.6.2 and the ACAS Code of Practice. When asked about the specifics of his posting
through a number of hearing managers, the pilot replied that he had not made the posting and that it had been edited by BASSA for their own purposes. This is a lie. Regardless, his posting backed up BASSA's belief that extraordinary measures outside of all normal policies and procedures were being taken to prosecute cabin crew in dispute related cases and that therefore they were being discriminated against.

BA managers are accompanied throughout all stages of a disciplinary by a member of PMA (People Management Advice; the BA equivalent of HR). Fifty dispute related disciplinaries of striking cabin crew were conducted before a PMA advisor titled the notes from a crew member's disciplinary, 'Leiden'. This led him, in his appeal to question the word 'Leiden'. Crew and TU reps have subsequently asked about the meaning of Leiden in various disciplinaries. Some managers and PMA advisors decline to answer, others have answered that Leiden is merely the name of a room in Waterside.
Whilst some suggest that it is the name of a particularly secure room
enabling only the manager concerned to have access to the case because of the sensitive nature of dispute related cases, others suggest it is a room where managers can compare sensitive dispute related cases to ensure consistency. Others, when pressed acknowledge that it is the name of a unit named after the room in Waterside that deals specifically with dispute related cases. One manager confirmed reluctantly that there exists a Leiden framework of sanctions which is referred to and applied in Leiden cases. Another manager has confirmed that the decision to suspend and instigate the disciplinary process is made by Leiden.

On the 16th of July a Flight Operations manager in response to questions posed in one hearing in which he had some involvement wrote that in order to protect volunteers a number of managers met in early February a number of times: He wrote -

"Either Len McCluskey or Tony Woodley had set the scene before this period by referring to the volunteer workforce as 'scabs' so it was not a surprise but it was a source of real concern. A number of meetings took place prior to 4th February.... where we discussed how to protect the volunteers, what action to take against those responsible for intimidation and where it was appropriate to draw the line. In order to promote a consistent approach, we identified and categorised 5 areas of intimidation which we considered were either gross misconduct or misconduct. We also agreed that the incidents would be investigated by a central investigation unit....that would be set up immediately."

Crew and their reps have since requested these five criteria which have never been forthcoming. Reluctantly, the Company has provided the Leiden framework in only two cases. It is undated and is version 4. The Company have been asked to provide copies of versions 1,2 and 3 and for the dates of any changes. To date these have not been provided. Most recently, in the case of one sacked crew member, a fragment of an evidently earlier framework was provided at the insistence of her solicitor. It is again undated and the sanctions available to the manager are narrower and more defined.

When asked about Leiden in an interview with Dan Milmo of The Guardian on the 7th of November 2010, BA say -

"Investigations into allegations are conducted under the company's disciplinary procedures, which have been in place for many years, are fair, open and transparent and are agreed with all our trade unions,
including Unite......This is part of an open and transparent process and copies of the matrix have been provided on request."

It must be noted that BA have a robust disciplinary procedure agreed with the TUs and that that procedure continues to be applied in all non- dispute related cases. There is no need for supplementary frameworks that apply only to dispute related cases or for a separate set of criteria. Leiden was not agreed by the Trade Unions or approved by The Employment Council. Nor was it known to either. It was not transparent or published or indeed known to the employees and the Company have been at great pains to keep its existence secret. At no time did they ever answer a concern or query by stating that they were acting outside the norm because they were
working to a separate, secret framework. At no time was any crew member aware of the existence of a 'central intelligence unit'.

Whilst, the Company finds the deliberately prescriptive nature of their covert Leiden framework an acceptable advisory tool for their chosen Leiden Unit managers to use in deciding to suspend, sanction and dismiss; indeed this being its very remit, The TU rep responsible for representing the majority of the crew and for collating information about dispute related cases and the very existence of Leiden, was accused of gross misconduct and sacked for the way in which she advised, prepared and represented crew involved.

Subsequent to the uncovering of the Leiden Unit and during negotiations prior to the current ballot for further industrial action, the Company provided Unite with a list of Leiden Cases. This matched the Union's own list of cases thought to be related to the dispute. All Leiden cases have been subjected to secret criteria and frameworks unknown to the crew involved or to the cabin crew community at large or to their unions. All Leiden cases have been treated outside normal policies and procedures. All Leiden cases have been classified as such because they are related to the industrial dispute and for no other reason. Therefore all crew classified as Leiden have been discriminated against by virtue of their trade union membership and activity.
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 15:47
  #483 (permalink)  
 
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17 Feb 2011 16:21 posting by LD12986

For instance on FacePPRuNe a number of crew mention a list of pilots training as crew. At no time do they mention the actual names of the pilots. Every crew member on that
FacePPRuNe thread was suspended, suffering severe financial deficit and emotional distress.
I am not sure that I understand what is meant by FacePPrune.
Does that affect us here and now and tomorrow?
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 15:50
  #484 (permalink)  
 
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the Company provided Unite with a list of Leiden Cases.
duh! - wasn't that list was given to the trade union when the last deal was agreed? (before the union then broke their promise to ballot the membership)

As I recall, and its in the public domain, BA produced a list of employees who had been sacked during this dispute, which would have gone to ACAS arbitration - had the union members had a say of course. The union themselves wanted such a list produced, the fact it has got a name seemingly attached to it, how is that relevant?

There is a card outside each room in Waterside on which the purpose or titles of meetings are noted ie: this room is in use for.....In every dispute related case it was noted that the room is in use for "Backing BA". Backing BA refers to supporting the Company in its dispute with Unite.

Immediately then, if a case was related in some way to the dispute, crew were being treated differently from how they would have been treated were the case unrelated to the dispute.
oh my gosh! the employers door, leading into the employers room, where the employer will be, has, may or will be used for the benefit of the employer in the future! not fair!!! does the union want a designated grey room with pictures of Lennin on it, with chimes of the Soviet national anthem piped gently in the background for it to be deemed a fair room!?

what total drivel!
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 15:59
  #485 (permalink)  
 
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In each case the letter notifying the crew member of their suspension had been typed out prior to the meeting.
hardly surprising. Been there myself, you hear the employee, and the agruments, and have a pre-typed letter ready at the end of the meeting, so that you can give to them immmediately, when a decission is made.

it is not a presumption of guilt to have the letter ready, it simply is an effecient way of dealing with the employee, and means that when they leave the meeting they have the decission, in writing, and there is no room for ambiguity.
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 16:04
  #486 (permalink)  
 
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A pilot wrote a posting on the BALPA website informing pilots that he had been present at a meeting on the 3rd of February with senior BA management and with input from the 'head of the company himself' in which certain things were put in place that would expedite any disciplinary processes and which convinced him utterly that the Company were using all their extraordinary contacts across industry to leave no stone unturned in exposing and punishing anyone who might pose a threat to pilot volunteers.
Good for BA! so what this pilot heard is that BA will protect their employees from threatening behaviour - I should hope so!

Had BA said they would not proect them, that would be smoething to write home about... this paragraph shows BA are a good employer IMHO!
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 16:08
  #487 (permalink)  
 
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A pilot would make an allegation and the crew member was suspended. In most cases allegations were not even made, but rather, the company took the decision to suspend and instigate disciplinary action regardless and an allegation or a 'victim' sought later. In other departments and with regard to cases unrelated to the industrial dispute, normal EG102 procedures were followed.
want us to take you seriously Unite/BASSA? then tell the world exactly what was posted, regardless of to whom it was posted, and let us the traveling public make a decission on this.

Quite reightly BA will not release these details, if you the union belive in their innocence so much, then make it public, and let us all see what was said.

or is the truth not worthy of public consumption, or perhaps it won't stengthen your case?
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 16:43
  #488 (permalink)  
 
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Reading the post copied by LD12986 tells me that either ...

a. Someone has a lot of time to spare, or,

b. Someone in a Union has written something.

As to where it takes anyone, I defer to Richard228 to continue the anlysis.
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 16:51
  #489 (permalink)  
 
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flexi fleet

It is a pity that the inventor of that rubbish did not use some of his talent into making the "flexi fleet" become a working system.
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 18:46
  #490 (permalink)  
 
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ld 12986

You posted that rather long monologue from a conspiracy theorist.....

As someone from a much bigger Co than BA, who has lived through real disputes, where people went on proper full time strikes and lost real money over real principles, - not this nasty, convertible BMW, PIMMS drinking petty dispute, at BA, I have to say that the procss that was outlined in that post was better than anything I've managed before! However, it is/was quite typical of what TUs and corporates do.

1. You know in advance that some very nasty people are involved in this dispute. You know about the bullying and intimidation because you lived therough the Gate Gourmet dispute, when Union reps were threatening people with physical harm. You know that there are pubs close to Heathrow where plots will be hatched to hurt people - both physically and mentally.. Note that the pubs are near Heathrow, not Southampton. You would suffer at least a broken leg to go in to 2 of these pubs, which are known to Special branch.

2. You set out to protect those who will help you. It doesn't matter one jot whether they are pilots or baggage handlers or cleaners. You WILL protect them.

3. You train a group of managers to deal with the fall-out. They are not special agents from the FBI. They are just folk who do their jobs - often for less money than the strike-leaders.

4. You block book rooms. Trying to make something sinister about block booking rooms is plainly daft. When you know the sh*t will be flying, NOT to block book rooms is daft.

5. You have already told the National Officials what you are doing. Woodley et al tell you to get on with it.

6. You are unable to talk to bassa, as they have formally told you that they
6. 1. will not talk/negotiate with you
and
6. 2 have formally withdrawn from most, if not all their agreements with you,and that they have, of course, withdrawn from the Facilities agreement.

I could go on, but is it worth it? I could tell you about how the T & G officials and members used to set fire to NUM coaches, and let their tyres down, as TUs do much worse than BA did.
I'm not going to convince the bassa lot, so I'll leave it.
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 18:50
  #491 (permalink)  
 
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@ AO ...Sheeesh ... I thought working for HMG and being in the Military was rough sometimes. You know, proper warry stuff.

I am [sadly] enlightened.
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 19:38
  #492 (permalink)  
 
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MPN11

As to where it takes anyone, I defer to Richard228 to continue the anlysis.
I'm analysis'd out for now I'm afraid!

I could go on... but need I?!
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 20:00
  #493 (permalink)  
 
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ID / AO

I was going to Fisk that parranoia inducing post from Duncan (or one of his little helpers), but it's been a long week, it's still only Thursday.

With the exception of not providing an opportunity for witnesses to be questioned (if Rob.Bedcrew is to be believed - but of course really we don't know the ins and outs of the disciplinary interview, do we?), every single thing that has been described points to an organisation that really does know it stuff. I would go so far as to say BA have dealt with this in an expemplary way - that said, that judgement can only be made in the basis of what 'Robby' has told us .

When an organisation is faced with a large number disciplinary cases, it is highly probable that it will need to modify its processes to ensure that cases (and appeals) are heard in within prescribed timescales. What Rob has described is entirely legitimate, fair and reasonable, as are the logistic that have been put in place. This sounds identical to the process that, with ACAS's help, I put in place when faced with 35 breaches of IT protocols (or to put it another way, staff sending very, very mucky photos to each other, as well as customers).

And, it is absolutely right that BA will want to establish a framework, or a range of reasonable responses to the cases. Every case will be different, have varing degrees of aggravation / mitigation, and as long as the managers hearing the case hear it fairly - there is absolutely nothing wrong for them to turn to that framework to ensure that the penalty, should one be imposed, is reasonable and consistent.

No conspiracy here, therefore, just a company doing what is required of it.

Of course if Dunc can't accept that - he can always march his people to an ET. Good luck with that, I think he'll need it and so will his followers, especially if they persist with an application without merit. An award of costs against them could well follow.
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Old 17th Feb 2011, 21:56
  #494 (permalink)  
 
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Union busting

I think it is said that BA have sacked 50-odd CC in the 2 year course of this dispute. Given BASSA had >10,000 members at the start of this dispute, it will only take BA another 400 years to bust BASSA by sacking their members at the current rate.

In the meantime BASSA have managed to lose ~2000 members disgruntled with their actions in the course of this dispute, and the BASSA secretary has publicly called for another couple of thousand of the remaining members to leave as they didn't vote in accordance with his wishes.

Now just who exactly is union busting in this dispute?

Last edited by Mariner9; 17th Feb 2011 at 22:18.
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Old 18th Feb 2011, 06:17
  #495 (permalink)  
 
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If all that is alleged in RBs posting and the disciplinary procedures have been circumvented, modified or dispensed with just to union bust, then we will see a series of Employment Tribunals dishing out pots of compensation to those who have been dealt with in this manner.

The problem with postings on any website is that the level of proof that is required in them is very low. RB makes many allegations in his post and asserts many things, but it is the nature of this type of post that there is nothing in the way of verifiable evidence. It is all just someone's opinion.

The purpose of this posting is to preach to the choir; the intended audience already believes that BA is behaving in an underhand fashion and there is some shadowy within house organisation that is being used to union bust. The level of examination to which RBs words will be placed is minimal, as its veracity is irrelevant except where it serves to bolster up support. It helps the die-hard to "keep the faith". The problem with faith is that it relies on unprovable things - prove that God exists, you cannot, you need faith.

Without wishing entirely to dismiss this as all untrue, it does reek of the the sort of posting that you see on any conspiracy nut website. It is long on accusation and short on hard evidence, evidence that would stand up in a court of law, where hearsay and innuendo do not make a case. I await the legal cases with anticipation, after all if this is all true then we can expect to see BA losing lots and lots of ETs in the near future and paying out much compensation.
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Old 18th Feb 2011, 06:52
  #496 (permalink)  
 
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The more I deal with legal opinion on policy, the more I realise that all you can strive for is a reasonable employer. Policies are there to give structure to a process and as there is no statutory D&G procedure now, all a business has to do is broadly follow the ACAS CoP.

Reasonable employers will consult on change, hopefully coming to an agreement, but agreement is not needed. A contractual policy, fair enough, but workplace industrial agreements are worth nothing unless it can be seen to affect an individuals contractual position, as was shown in the manning level court case.

I imagine that any modified policy is not going to be as good as the original, but I bet it would still satisfy an ET.
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Old 18th Feb 2011, 12:24
  #497 (permalink)  
 
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This is not difficult.

1/ BA has a over-riding legal duty to protect its employees going about their legitimate instructed tasks.
2/ One employee group withdraws participation from the normal consultation process wrt to disciplinary processes.
3/ (2/) occurs against a background of some quite overt threats, and actual instances of acts agaisnt legitimately acting employees.
4/ In order to ensure 1/, BA institutes a process which still complies with all tenets of fair investigation, but expedites process (essential given the circumstances), and which ensures a consistent fair and equable treatment of all those subject to the process.

I have personally been involved as an employer in an ET where I refused access to witnesses by the accused or their representatives, and which involved bullying and intimidation. The Tribunal found that this was entirely consistent with a fair disciplinary investigation, in order to satisfy my duty & responsibility to protect employees going about legitimate business. Lots of ET's have done the same. And it is also pretty much the norm that given a serious gross mis-conduct accusation (as these are, whether BASSA thinks so or not), you immediately suspend the accused to get them out of the workplace and defuse the situation (I suppose that if an accused at the initial meeting came up with some overwhelming piece of evidence { eg it couldn't be me because I wasn't in CRC that day, I was in the Co hotel in Singapore, here's a copy of my roster}, that would then have obviated the handing over a pre-typed letter). The disciplinary can then proceed in a calm objective manner at an appropriate time. As long as the the accused are clearly informed about the nature of the accusation (perhaps with copies of witness statements), that is fair. It is not fair to put the bullied into a situation where face to face the accused or their rep can brow beat them and bully them into changing their evidence. Interestingly, in my case, the Union took the view that they were representing both the accused amd accusers, and therefore their only input was to provide advice to both parties in terms of process. It speaks volumes for BASSA and Unite in this, that they have seemingly unilaterally decided not to support those members who felt they were being bullied by their colleagues.
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Old 18th Feb 2011, 12:41
  #498 (permalink)  
 
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Litebulbs,

I agree with what you say about hoping for a reasonable employer, but unfortunately, that only works where the workforce reps are also reasonable. I have direct experience of managing two workgroups in the same union branch, but one group was consistently represented by "reasonable" individuals, and it was a pleasure to work with them to drive the business forward. Over time that group obtained better and better reward and conditions. The other group consistently elected Mr No men, and used every opportunity to force conflict and objection, and try and get something for nothing. There was a management history of giving in. Eventually, the only viable solution was to either close the place down (threatening the employment of the reasonable group) or breaking them. The parallel with the BA-Unite situation is very close. One key difference was that the full-time officials very much understood what was going on, and pointedly refused to grandstand in favour of the unreasonable group, and in the latter stages became very robust in telling it like it is.
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Old 18th Feb 2011, 14:07
  #499 (permalink)  
 
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Litebulbs writes.............

Reasonable employers will consult on change, hopefully coming to an agreement, but agreement is not needed.
BA is such a reasonable employer as it has consulted on change & has reached agreement with the VAST majority of its' employees.

Lest we forget, not only are Bassa a minority amongst the CC community, they are a much smaller minority amongst the total BA workforce. I fail to see why they expect to get special treatment.
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Old 18th Feb 2011, 14:54
  #500 (permalink)  
 
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All

I was in no way suggesting that BA is not a reasonable employer, if you based it across all grades and then measured it against industry.

My point is that it is in the hands of the employer to set standards. Obviously the relationship with its employees will influence how those standards are set.
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