“The 12 days of misery” is what the newspapers are calling it. Yesterday British Airways cabin crew voted to strike for 12 days over the Christmas period starting on December 22. Nearly one million passengers will be affected as they try to get to loved ones for Christmas and take the holiday many have saved all year for.
As well as stranding passengers, the strike will cost the already financially troubled company hundreds of millions of dollars. You can read the full story of what’s behind the strike here.
It’s not just happening in Britain:
– In Australia postal workers are striking for two days, just as the Christmas postal rush hits its height.
– Four hundred thousand Indian public sector bank workers are due to walk out tomorrow over a proposed merger.
– Hospital workers in rural Nova Scotia have just voted to walk out over pay demands, but interestingly, they say they will hold off until January because of the swine flu pandemic.
There’s uproar in Britain over the BA strike. One word comes up again and again in comment pieces and blog posts about it – selfish. Even celebrity blogger Perez Hilton has weighed in against the unions.
Is striking selfish?
Collective action like striking has achieved many things in the past like helping women move towards equal pay.
The power of strikes is obviously in how much they inconvenience a company… but what if thousands of customers are affected as well? Is it selfish to put the demands of one group of people — striking workers — over another? Or is this the only way that people who may not have a voice otherwise can achieve their demands.
Does it make a difference if it’s simply a company’s profits that are affected, as opposed to, say hospital patients or children in school?
Many people have pointed out that BA cabin crew get paid up to twice the industry standard. The company has made a loss of nearly $500 million in the last six months and as pretty much everyone acknowledges needs to cut some costs in order to stay afloat.
In tough economic times do you have sympathy for people who strike to hold onto their conditions? Or does economic reality mean the axe has to fall somewhere?