Academics accuse Willie Walsh of attempt to break BA union
NEARLY 100 academics have signed a letter accusing BA chief executive Willie Walsh of wanting to "break the union" representing striking cabin crew.
The letter was signed by 95 employment relations experts from universities across the UK, including 14 from Strathclyde University in Glasgow.
It came as passengers face a second, four-day strike from tomorrow in the bitter cost-cutting dispute, which will ground many Scotland-Heathrow flights.
The letter said the strikers and the Unite union "deserve our support rather than knee-jerk vilification".
It said: "Given the near certainty of further strikes, it is clear to us that the actions of the chief executive of British Airways, notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary, are explicable only by the desire to break the union which represents the cabin crew.
"What other possible interpretation can there be for Willie Walsh rejecting Unite's acceptance of BA's previous offer or indeed of his marshalling of resources, including those of bitter industry rival Ryanair, to undermine the action of his staff?"
The signatories accused Walsh of having a "macho management strategy" which would lead to worse working conditions for staff.
They wrote: "Overwhelming majorities in two strike ballots in the face of tabloid opprobrium testify to employees' understanding that a victory for Walsh's macho management strategy would precipitate a race to the bottom in terms of working conditions and job quality. In the process, this would damage beyond repair the high standards of customer service for which BA cabin crew are renowned.
"The wider significance of a triumph of unilateral management prerogative would be a widening of the representation gap in UK employment relations."
BA denied the claims. A spokesman said: "If this was the case, why would we have been in talks since February 2009?
"Why would we have involved the TUC and (conciliation service] Acas to try to reach a negotiated settlement?
"As chief executive, Willie Walsh has been personally involved in the TUC talks."
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