Airline rage

15 January 2010
Sarah Campbell blog picThe procurement team at British Airways (BA) must be throwing their hands up in despair. Relations between management and cabin crew have deteriorated to the point that members of a branch of the Unite union are pouring away unused bottles of wine and throwing washbags in the bin, rather than keeping them for future flights. They are calling it “passive resistance”. The air stewards and stewardesses say that this is their only way to register their frustration – and seeing that their chief executive, Willie Walsh, has a court injunction stopping them striking, it’s admittedly difficult to think of any other way for them to vent their anger. But to an outsider it sounds extraordinarily wasteful and petty – and it puts BA’s buyers at the heart of a union v management battle that they don’t really have any part in. Buyers have already been asked to work for free, and to help to save £140 million a year. Their own loyalty is being put to the test. On top of this they are feeling acutely that age-old problem familiar to procurement people: their own staff wasting products that they have worked hard to get at the highest quality and lowest price. You can’t help thinking that BA’s cabin crew are playing against their own team.
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