Topics: Introduction, Management, British Airways Pages: 2 (549 words) Published: September 21, 2013
Unions argued that the walkout was triggered by
senior management at BA “abandoning talks over
the introduction of smart cards and announcing
their forced imposition at just five days’ notice.” 111 It was this unilateral decision by BA to introduce
the swipe card, and a lack of adequate consultation
with affected staff, that was cited as a key reason for
the strike. 112 Even BA’s pilots, who did not oppose
a check-in system, were said to be sympathetic
“with the . . . check-in staff over the way that the
airline had mishandled the introduction of the swipe
cards.” 113 One commentator labeled the change
process as a “commercial disaster” serving as “an
important warning—about the dangers of manage-
ment by diktat, certainly, but, more profoundly,
about an incipient revolt against the close control
and monitoring of our lives and movements that
modern information technology enables.” 114
The Economist argued that management’s “big
mistake was to introduce a new working practice
at the start of the summer quarter when the airline
makes all its money.” 115 Similarly, The Times wrote
that this was a major management blunder: “To
pick July, the start of the peak holiday season, to
launch an unpopular new clock-in system, is asking
for trouble. To push through a scheme without real-
izing the extent of the resistance by those involved
suggests a management aloof from the mood of
its employees. And to allow managers to give con-
tradictory statements on the use of the new cards
seems guaranteed to foment mistrust.” 116
As Hutton argued, with 20,000 other BA workers
using the swipe card system, “Imposing them after
months of inconclusive talks must have seemed—
especially given the pressure to contain costs, with
the airline set to report its worst ever quarterly loss of
£60 million this week—a risk worth taking. It was a
massive miscalculation...
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