Union grumbles as BA collects complaints about cabin crew

14th Sep 2010

British Airways has asked call centre staff to collate customer complaints about cabin crew that criticise the airline or make ‘inappropriate comments’ to passengers about strike action.

According to the Guardian, the airline’s inflight customer experience unit, which manages flight attendants, has sent a memo to contact centre agents saying: "The inflight customer experience team would like to track details of when passengers have made complaints about our crew that are deemed serious enough to take disciplinary action."

Managers at the unit are also looking for complaints that "would be suitable for feedback to the crew members", the memo added. Such complaints could relate to racist remarks, inappropriate comments about passengers, swearing, adverse statements about the airline and inappropriate comments about strike action.

BA denied accusations by Unite that it was seeking to use the activity as a way to unfairly discipline workers and to undermine the union’s strength, but Unite has implied that the move could lead to a full staff walkout.

The airline, however, claimed the trial was part of a drive to improve customer feedback. It was simply "a new method of collating information about any complaints", it said. "We have always investigated complaints and will continue to do so. The trial will make no difference to the conduct of disciplinary procedures, should any investigations lead to them."

But Unite general secretary Tony Woodley told "This is no longer a matter for BA cabin crew alone. If trade unionism is smashed among cabin crew, then we can be sure these methods will be extended to other groups of unionised BA employees."

He added that he intended to call a meeting of senior shop stewards at BA to discuss a co-ordinated response, but played down the prospect of calling a swift ballot for industrial action.

The union has already called 22 days of strike action so far, but the main barrier to agreement with BA, it said, was the airline’s refusal to fully reinstate staff travel perks that were stripped from an estimated 6,700 cabin crew who took part in industrial action in protest at changes to their working practices.


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