HR boss quits in-flight caterer after seven months of conflict

The HR director of in-flight caterer Gate Gourmet is leaving the company after just seven months in the job to set up his own HR and employee relations consultancy.

Andy Cook, who is leaving today (Tuesday), told Personnel Today that the company needed “a new perspective” on employee relations.

Gate Gourmet hit the headlines in August last year when it sacked 670 staff after they staged wildcat strikes in protest at the hiring of temporary workers. Staff at British Airways then walked out in sympathy, causing chaos for thousands of travellers and costing the airline up to £45m.

Cook was thrust into the media spotlight, conducting several radio and television interviews. His involvement also extended to a weekend visit to the High Court to get an injunction to stop picketing. He told Personnel Today at the time that the dispute was like “walking into a storm of brown stuff”.

The organisation has made great strides in modernising its working practices and is now focusing on rebuilding relations with the Transport and General Workers’ Union, Cook said.

But he said problems remained with a “minority” of workers who were still bitter about the dispute and were still demanding that all workers be reinstated. “These people don’t seem to be able to move on and it affects everyone working here,” he added.

There are still some employment tribunal claims pending, but the firm is confident of its legal ground, Cook said.

Gate Gourmet said: “We would like to thank Andy for working with us in a very tough situation. We welcome on board Gary Fisher as the new HR director for UK and Ireland.”

Fisher has previous HR experience from communications firm Marconi, as well as global engineering giant Bechtel.

Cook’s has set up his own HR consultancy (www.marshall-james.net).

 

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