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BA set to claim siginifcant damages from BALPA for 'damage to its reputation & brand'

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BA set to claim siginifcant damages from BALPA for 'damage to its reputation & brand'

Old 7th Apr 2008, 19:58
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When I were a mere lad, the Boy's Book of BOAC or whatever it was called was a tremendous insight into the world of the DC-7C, Britannia, Comet 4C and Rolls 707 - with whispers of the new kid in town coming soon, the VC10.

BOAC was the only real airline as far as the general public were concerned and it had tremendous national prestige on the world stage as did its European sibling, BEA. Comet 4B, Trident, Vanguard - all British, of course!

That wan Captains were Kings, as an old 'Baron' told me a few years ago. He left the RAF and started on DC-7Fs, before finishing as a Concorde captain.

He told me how the airline had begun to crumble when 'biscuit salesmen' and 'trick cyclists' (managers and psychobabble recruiters) began to have more say than pilots and crews. How the royal blue and gold of speedbird was turned into cheap 'British' logos and corporate grey suited mediocrity - not just in the flesh, but also in spirit.

How can the former pinnacle of British civil aviation have slithered down to its current state? Well, not under BALPA, that's for sure....

These useless managers need to stand aside and let someone repair the core values before it's too late. Put the 'British' back into ba and stop fart-arsing about with glossy, corporate business weasel-speak and trumped up excuses for systemic incompetence at Waterworld!

A ba recruiter (one of those ridiculous people who lurk at Cranebank) once asked "Which is more important - operations or management". The answer was supposed to be 'management' - but the (well briefed) chap who was asked said "Well, if management is crap, you might go bust. If operations are crap, you will probably kill people. Any airline whose managers don't accept that is an airline I don't want to fly with or for. So, goodbye!"
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Old 7th Apr 2008, 22:23
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Zebedie,

Well said, I totally agree.

BEagle,

The Imperial Airways Atlantic Barons were a pain in the a**se
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 00:26
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The whelk stall

Courtney - we are not talking about running a whelk stall, we are talking about running an airline. That my dear is a very different and more complicate matter. I think the whelk stall would be more suited for Willie and Co, less variables to cope with.As far as BALPA are concerned (and i am not a member) they are a very well respected 'specialised union', not like the do-nothing, roll over belly tickle mega unions. Good luck to BALPA and all your members
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 03:15
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As a regular pax (and a lawyer) I wonder how much on a "per ticket" basis BA's action against its own pilots is costing the paying public (let alone the shareholders).

If that could be estimated, I wonder what sympathy the public would have for BA, knowing they are funding, with every ticket they purchase (and every bag lost) an action against the drivers trying to get them safely to their destination ....

Unless the British public really don't like pilots, I can't see how BA can maintain public support for the action.

Keep up the fight!
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 07:34
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Once upon a time many many years ago, in a land far away, companies used to select their managers, senior managers and Boards of Directors in one of four or five ways.....

1. You worked your way up from the floor, or from being an office boy, you demonstrated technical competence along the way, which is why you continued to rise. People knew you, your character was very much on display for your bosses and co-workers to see. You continued to rise because you were judged to be competent, perhaps even more gifted than others, but people knew you were not a sh1t.

2. You were in the army/navy/airforce with the current bosses. You may have demonstrated some competence, but people had observed you for three or four years, perhaps even under fire, and they knew you shared their values and that you were not a sh1t.

3. You went to a public (ie private in Americanese) school with your current bosses. They knew you, or their younger brother knew you. Your competence may have been in doubt, but anyway, your classmates vouched that you were not a sh1t.

4. You went to the same university as your bosses. While you might have ***** your bosses girlfriend at the time, your tutors and lecturers vouched that you were not a sh1t.

5. You are related to your boss, or the younger son of an Earl, or a member of an exclusive club, and daddy makes a phone call. Chances are he will vouch that you are not a sh1t.

In those days we didn't hire from the opposition, because a man who will leave his employer and go to a competitor to get ahead is being disloyal, and will be disloyal to you in turn.

Those are the standards I grew up with, and broadly speaking, they were exclusionary, racist, snobbish, discriminatory and undoubtedly kept some good people from getting ahead, just because they didn't "talk proper".

But they did have one advantage over the current system.......they kept sh1ts out of management positions.

But in todays world of scientific management this just won't do will it? It's unfair, inequitable, inefficient, and of course highly discriminatory isn't it?

So today we hire into management on one concept merit. And this is the fly in the ointment, because some people with great "merit" are sh1ts, and nobody tests for the sh1t factor. In fact, testing to see if someone is a sh1t is illegal. To put it another way, management "qualifications', a lot of sucking up ("I would really like to be part of this exciting and wonderful organisation you yourself have created"), little or no experience (for some would see experience in certain fields as contamination, they want impressionable young minds on which to inflict their "new management culture") - I've been caught that way once myself.

What do I mean by a sh1t? Basically it means an industrial psychopath - which is not to say that such a person is not highly intelligent and hardworking, they are - but they don't do at least one thing - empathy, and thus they have no scruples about doing whatever it takes to climb the management tree, from sucking up to the boss to administratively "knifing" a co-worker/competitor for advancement. They have no scruples and no shame.

The symptoms of having one of these in a senior position in an organisation is at least two or three of the following.

1. Good managers leaving in droves, often with great bitterness as the psychopaths arrange things to take the credit for their hard work, but leave them carrying responsibility for any failures.

2. Proliferating layers of management as in "Executive General Managers", "Group General managers" and so on. These layers will be exclusively populated by the same type of person since industrial psychopaths love being sucked up to and are not averse to sucking up themselves.

3.Bizarre human relations disasters. These are not perceived as such by the management for they cannot empathise. Here are three examples

(a) Management demanding and expediting deep cost cutting exercises, yet at Christmas the "Senior Management Team" are given presents of cases of $150 a bottle wine by the Chairman. The staff get an email and a new diary.

(b) Management screaming and crying all year about the need to cut costs and how uncertain the future of the company is - demanding redundancies and yet more savings. The company then announces record profits.

(c) Management calling the staff "dinosaurs" and "Legacy employees" and suchlike, yet their annual report and mission statement proudly states "Our most important resource are our staff."

I could go on....

The net result is poisonous industrial relations, a disengaged workforce and eventual collapse because the management, intent on their own advancement and being unable to empathise with their own staff keep sending out the "meta message" (the message you send when you don't think you are sending a message) that you little people don't matter in the scheme of things - which is a mistake, because one pilot, mechanic or cabin crew can undo your company's reputation in a heartbeat, and there is nothing you can do about it, nor will you even know it's happened until it's too late.
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 09:19
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Nice essay, Sunfish!

There are also cultural differences that play a role. But it is not clear how. For example, the British have never been able to run a railway either (a) on time, or (b) make money on it, while keeping it (c) comfortable for passengers, for some 160 years now. However, the Germans and French and Austrians and Swiss can do at least (a) and (c), and the recent history of the SNCF shows that the French can do (b) as well. (Hartmut Mehldorn is claiming (b) also for German rail, but I think there are a few inventive pieces of bookkeeping which help somewhat.) Exercise 1: explain this phenomenon.

Maybe relevant is the history of one of the most successful British companies running over some century or two previous to rail, the East India Company. As far as I know, it was run as a quasi-military operation with full participation of the British military. I am reading Amartya Sen's book Identity and Violence. Sen comes across as one of the most civilised people, as well as being smart (Nobel prize winner), although I do find his prose somewhat turgid. He writes of James Mill's history of India, published in 1817, which was "standard reading of the imperial cadres about to undertake the voyage to that country" and was praised by Lord Macauley as "on the whole the greatest historical work that has appeared in our language since that of Gibbon". The need to keep some distance was explained by Mill thus: "our ancestors, though rough, were sincere" (speaking of previous British in India), while "under the glosing exterior of the Hindu, lies a general disposition to deceit and perfidy". Sen goes on to point out that this was hardly a helpful characterisation of his countrymen. Who, BTW, constitute about a third of the CEOs of Silicon Valley companies at present. So much for a "general disposition to deceit and perfidy".

Could it be that this kind of business culture, which persisted in Britain for some centuries, helps to account in some part for, say, not being able to run a rail system? One can understand how it could lead to management having a hard time maintaining relations with an exceptionally skilled and intelligent work force, also not disposed to "deceit and perfidy", when there are different views over operations (such as opening a new subsidiary airline).

The Brits can run roads better than anybody else (Swedes don't count - too much space and too few cars). Even on a crowded island. Why is that? I could guess it has to do with a readiness to undergo more surveillance (people generally don't drive hazardously on motorways because, smile, you're on camera! Whereas Germany has a big problem with such behavior, as with the obvious methods of controlling it). But that can't be the whole story.

BTW, Tiny Tim was disparaged for asking how this great to-do in the court was to be paid for. It is an obviously valid question. I have had a number of girlfriends who were penniless, but when, say, the car irreparably broke down, or when the cooker went kaput, somehow another one appeared. Or when the new apartment needed decorating, somehow professional painters were engaged. These relationships all broke down because, well, that is ultimately not a way one can run household finances. Those disparaging Tiny Tim for asking the question might take note.

It is a well-known strategy of those with deep pockets who wish to win a fight to take their opponents to court. It doesn't work so well in Germany, because legal fees are set by law. While deep pockets can still employ expensive lawyers, at least opponents can mount a reasonable defence at foreseeable expense. (It also leads, in my opinion and that of a number of German lawyers and judges, to a lot of relatively trivial court cases that could be better sorted out through other means.) In Britain, a civil law suit is a significant financial threat to anyone. However, the plaintiff still must have some sort of arguable case, otherwise it gets summarily thrown out. So what is BA's real case against BALPA? Nothing I have so far read here sounds like a serious argument.

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Old 8th Apr 2008, 09:36
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Sunfish and PBL,

Two very interesting posts.

However, following upon a recent award, I would have to doubt that one is deducible from the other in:
as well as being smart (Nobel prize winner),
. . unless, of course, 'smart' is the same as 'cunning self seeking time serving b'stard'.
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 09:41
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So, according to tiny tim, who incidentally writes like a company lackey on many occasions, whenever anyone threatens you with legal action, the first thing you do is size up their bank balance, look at your own meagre reserves, and give up the case because his is bigger than yours. Craven, cowardly and blinkered thinking in my opinion.
This basis for deciding legal cases is absurd and simply not historically proven. There are many instances of small companies or individuals taking on Big Business and winning. The climate of cloistered back slapping club members shafting the little people in favour of the old boys running the companies has long gone. Think of Erin Brokovitch, maybe a second rate movie to you, but in reality a self funded individual, who, with a little help from her employer, took on a multi-billion dollar company and won unprecedented damages. She bankrupted the corporation involved.
BA beware!!! You reap as you shall sow.
If the lawyers bring in 1000 people who have an opinion about BA over the last 12 months, how many will side with the Management, and how many with the Union view?
BA management are simply reinforcing their ineptitude by bringing this case. I suggest BALPA counter sue in the sum of 100 million for defamation.
Bring it on, I say.
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 09:51
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Truly excellent posts from Beagle and Sunfish. My previous employer (BA Connect) was destroyed by Willie Walsh and his men in grey suits. Nothing will give me greater pleasure than to see this BA management cancer have the sh1t kicked out of them by BALPA in court.

BALPA must fight this one to the last man if necessary, otherwise the flood gates will be opened to a whole plethora of vexatious lawsuits from other unscrupulous airline managers.
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 10:13
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Originally Posted by rubik101
whenever anyone threatens you with legal action, the first thing you do is size up their bank balance, look at your own meagre reserves, and give up the case because his is bigger than yours. Craven, cowardly and blinkered thinking in my opinion.
Maybe, rubik, but let me assure you that that is exactly what you do.

Originally Posted by rubik101
This basis for deciding legal cases is absurd and simply not historically proven.
To the contrary, it has been part of every case with which I have ever been involved, as plaintiff, defendant or expert witness.

PBL
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 11:01
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Applause

Sunfish,
I must applaud your assessment of the present situation in BA and other industries. From all I have observed working with (but gratefully not directly for) BA, you have summed it up accurately.
Until there is a thorough top-down shakeup of the company then things can only get worse and worse. Unfortunately it seems that all the changes are bottom-up kicks in the teeth to the staff who actually interface with the public and try to keep the service going.
BALPA's approach to the City is well-judged but they are talking to people who are similar short-termists not capable of seeing beyond the next financial year.
For all these reasons I fear that BA is just one more great British company doomed to fail.
How sad.

Last edited by Sallyann1234; 8th Apr 2008 at 11:03. Reason: improved grammar
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 12:03
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I have no idea of BALPA's financial position but I would look to the wider union movement. If BA is serious about this, i.e. taking a union to court for following the law to the letter in pursuit of their members' grievances, and it is simply a matter of finances as to which side has greater legal muscle I think you may see the financial involvement of the TUC and the wider union movement, both officially and unofficially. A landmark ruling in BA's favour would be simply too catastrophic in terms of unions' already hobbled freedom of action.
If BA want to take us on, I am a Unison member, then bring it on, this is bullying and posturing and must have been dreamed up by sh1t akin to Deadwood.
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 13:26
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PBL,

Point of information.........In the 19th century, there were several railways running profitably - Great Northern, North Western, Great Western, Midland to name but a few. They also tended to be very paternal and very anti-union. Railway profits got killed by the government reneging on paying them after WW1 for the traffics they carried during the war - as happened again after WW2. The Great Northern relied on customer comfort to attract custom, while the Midland did the same by abolishing second class and increasing 3rd class comfort. So we did have companies that could do it. But they promoted management from inside the company, not because someone had an MBA (Much Bigger A*****e) or whatever. It also meant that management knew about how railways ran. Now there is, I feel, a degree of evidence to lead one to question if the majority of BA management know how an airline needs to run to be succesful.......
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 14:26
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let me assure you that that is exactly what you do
PBL I think that what you say is a bit misleading. Let me first put this another way to see if we actually do have a disagreement.

In taking legal action it would be foolish not to take into account the ability of the other to frustrate your goals by legal stratagems, legal delay and the application of superiour resources to escalate matters. A wise litigant will understand their level of financial exposure (and add a good %age as well). I too think that this is true and it seems to be consistent with what you have said.

But there is something missing in all of this. Other things matter too. One would be the significance or strategic import of the matter at issue. Another is the actual merit of your case. This, to put it mildly, matters. Here I speak of the "facts" - the issue in dispute, the quality of the evidence, the real intentions of the opposing action, the relevant law, etc.

When you make the decision to fight such considerations matter a lot. In fact, they may justify the taking of relatively high risks in terms of costs. The issue under discussion here seem to me to fall into this latter category.

Without such a balance your statement can easily be reduced to the following somewhat ridicuous conclusion: "If I am sued by somebody with superior resourses I should give in."

BA are playing a game here. BALPA is playing their part in the game. It may be a serious game, but the moves have a logic which has a lot more to do with issues other than cost. Context is all. I think BALPA have correctly interpreted BA's intentions and the risks. Strategically I think they have little choice, but I also think their's is a better case. But none of us knows what a court might decide.
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 16:39
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A decision in BA's favour would have ramifications for every single employee of this country, not just airline employees. I, for one, would support my union offering financial support to BALPA to fight this.

As a passenger, I am completely astounded by BA's actions, and for the moment am avoiding them like the plague.

Until they get their act together, and start behaving in a professional manner, and treating their customers with something approaching the respect we deserve, they will get no further business from my household.
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 17:44
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Two quick points.

Firstly , can the management of BA put their hands on their hearts and say that they are doing their job properley and that the Flight Crew are not ?

Secondly , in the unlikely event of wanting to expand / recruit more pilots ( doubtful after recent events ) , do they not remember having to give up their attempt to outspend the Dan Air Action Group and settle because companies cannot recruit any staff during an ongoing industrial dispute ? However much money BA can outspend BALPA by ( making the lawyers even more money ) I am sure that the union can drag out any dispute to cause problems .

I know that the crews will carry on their usual professional duties while trying to ignore the knives in the back from the dwarves in power.

Respect.
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 18:26
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BEagle - Absolutely first class post, as ever!

Sunfish - well reasoned and said. Sadly for many BA personnel on here, I regrettably agree 100% with your statement that:

The net result is poisonous industrial relations, a disengaged workforce and eventual collapse because the management, intent on their own advancement and being unable to empathise with their own staff keep sending out the "meta message" (the message you send when you don't think you are sending a message) that you little people don't matter in the scheme of things - which is a mistake, because one pilot, mechanic or cabin crew can undo your company's reputation in a heartbeat, and there is nothing you can do about it, nor will you even know it's happened until it's too late.
This just another step downhill.
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Old 8th Apr 2008, 18:50
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radeng,

Originally Posted by radeng
Point of information.........In the 19th century, there were several railways running profitably - Great Northern, North Western, Great Western, Midland to name but a few.
I didn't know that, and obviously got it wrong. Thanks for the correction.

GGV,

Originally Posted by GGV
Another is the actual merit of your case...... the issue in dispute, the quality of the evidence, the real intentions of the opposing action, the relevant law, etc.

When you make the decision to fight such considerations matter a lot. In fact, they may justify the taking of relatively high risks in terms of costs.
Sorry, don't agree, through personal experience. Courts and judges are human.

The only court case I ever lost, as plaintiff, defendant (in this case) or expert witness, was a case in which the judge had already decided that I had established the phenomenon which the plaintiff had disputed, through witness reports (one from someone who is registered with the court as an expert). The court-appointed expert then wrote a report in which he said the phenomenon was impossible. The judge reversed herself and went with the "expert". When I calculated the financial risk of appealing (taking into account that I had the burden of proof and what it would cost me to establish the phenomenon through proof) and the time frame in which I had to decide to appeal, I figured that I would rather get on with the rest of my life rather than persist. Then again, the amount at stake was only about EUR 8K.

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Old 8th Apr 2008, 21:44
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PBL I think it would have more helpful if you had addressed the substance of my words rather than re-interpret and apply them through the medium of your idiosyncratic experience. Between your two posts you seem to me to have adopted incompatible positions, and that's without even addressing such weight as my comments might have. Or perhaps you really are arguing that the facts don't matter and we live in an intrinsically uncertain and random world. I accept uncertainty (which is what I think you are asserting) but I do not accept irrationality.

BTW, despite your assertions Tinytim did more that to "just ask questions" - an examination of his posts indicates that he also made deductions and assertions that were felt to be questionable by other posters. I'd be rather inclined to agree with most of those critical observations. I make these comments in the context of what I said about the role played by the "facts of the matter".

That's if for me in this discussion - other than to say that I support BALPA's position 100%.
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Old 9th Apr 2008, 00:10
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Angry BA Management

Ref Post #8 ShortfinalFred.

Staff are not the only ones that www. is smashing down, his decision to totally remove access to concessional rebate travel from only the oldest group of current pensioners, who also receive smallest pensions and are therefore going to be hardest hit, is about to be implemented. Superb recognition of the service given by a once-loyal workforce that formed the once-proud Airline that he is now privileged to destroy.
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