British Airways’ director for people Neil Robertson answers questions on the dispute with staff at Heathrow Airport
How is the HR team at BA involved in this dispute?
British Airways has a dedicated HR team, including industrial relations specialists, working alongside our line management and customer service teams based at Heathrow.
With their support we have been working closely with the trade unions for the past 12 months to seek a resolution to the issue of Automated Time Recording (ATR).
The HR team has worked closely with their line management colleagues in keeping employees fully informed of developments.
Do you see the dispute as a failure of good HR practices?
In the past few years the industry has faced nimaginable challenges, making this the most testing time in aviation history. There have been events that we could not have foreseen - such as September 11, the SARS outbreak and the war in Iraq - and there has been continued economic weakness, as well as competition from the no-frills carriers. We have just reported one of our worst ever pre-tax losses for the first quarter of the year, and the lowest revenue for nine years. Although cost efficiencies partly offset the weak revenue.
These events would be seen as a challenge for any organisation. To survive BA and its employees have had to undergo an enormous amount of change. This change is inevitable and the need for change will continue. The contribution of our employees remains critical to BA’s recovery, and our overall approach and our record as a good employer recognise this.
Throughout this challenging period the company has worked closely with its employees and unions to enable the company to deliver on changes as part of the airline’s ‘Future, Size and Shape’ programme, which is aimed at modernising our business. HR has had a key part to play in the effective delivery of all this change.
Modernising the way we work also includes recognising that the demands on our employees’ lives are changing and we have sought to respond to that through HR policy and practice.
For example, our intranet system can be accessed by our