Tony Woodley, T&G general secretary, blames HR staff for British Airways crew strike


British Airways’ (BA) HR team must take “full responsibility” for the damaging cabin crew dispute, according to the head of the union behind the action.

Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, said HR failings had allowed staff dissatisfaction at the airline to build to dangerous levels.

BA was forced to cancel 1,300 flights after Transport & General Workers Union members overwhelmingly backed strikes over pensions, pay and sick leave. This affected up to 140,000 passengers, and has badly hurt both the reputation and stock market value of the airline.

Woodley said the HR team had allowed “sensible, professional, middle-class people – predominantly women” to become extremely angry with their employer. “It is not possible to campaign for this type of vote among these people without issues festering for some time,” he told Personnel Today.

“HR has to take full responsibility for not solving these issues, and for allowing this sore to become the cancer it now is. If [the HR team] was professional, it would have solved these issues one by one.”

The union claims that staff have been forced to work when unwell as the airline battles to reduce sickness absence. BA employees now take an average of 12 days’ sick leave per year, down from 22 two years ago. But Woodley added that the issue ran much deeper than this, and centred on a perceived lack of respect for staff from management.

BA declined to respond directly to Woodley’s comments, but pointed out that it had made offers on absence management and pay that were rejected by the union.

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