24 May 2010 | Rima Evans
Procurement staff at British Airways (BA) have volunteered to become cabin crew members during the strike action that started today.
In an exclusive interview Tim Richardson, head of procurement at BA, told SM that 10 members of his team have been trained up for full cabin crew duties and have even gained their “wings” following the completion of a four-week training course.
They have been on standby ready for potential strike action by the Unite union, which has been in a long-running dispute with BA over cost-cutting measures for cabin crew.
“It’s fantastic that so many people volunteered,” Richardson said. “They see it as a life experience, especially considering cabin crew get more money than some of my staff.”
Staff received training in areas such as aviation medicine and safety and emergency procedures and had to undergo a simulated terrorist attack. They were assessed as if they were real crew to ensure they are fully equipped to meet all manner of emergencies.
The volunteers were presented with their “wings” by senior directors on completion of the course.
Other procurement staff took on volunteer roles during the March strike action, including working on customer services telephone lines and helping customers in terminals. They also helped with the disruption caused by the volcanic ash.
Cabin staff were due to strike earlier this month – the first of four five-day walkouts – but a High Court injunction brought the action to a halt on a technicality. Unite appealed against the decision, however, and the ban was overturned.
The strike which started today is due to continue for five days. Two further five-day walkouts by Unite members are scheduled to begin on 30 May and 5 June.
* The full interview will appear in the summer issue of SM’s sister publication, CPO Agenda and online at www.cpoagenda.com