BA & Heathrow face major strikes as press get nasty

The strikes looming – even as one is suspended pending negotiations – turned especially virulent yesterday as the press and media turned nasty.

The press seem to have been guided with an extraordinary level of personal details about the individual being blamed for the BA pilots strike. His background as an ex-RyanAir pilot and a “militant” – a word used to strike fear into British readers is clever manipulation.

The suggestion that he and others from low cost airlines, now working at British Airways were somehow inferior and not “good chaps” of the old school type, and a “bad egg”, is typically British class snobbery – and very BA.

Like it or not the BA pilots voted 84% in favour of action.

It was another story when it came to Heathrow. The CEO John Holland-Kaye, took home over £4.2 million in pay last year. Many of the security, baggage and non-government immigration staff are on or close to the legal minimum. Their strike action would have crippled parts of Heathrow, now in its busiest summer season.

The public and the media turned not on them for striking, but on Heathrow for not paying them enough. And Twitter gave Heathrow a very hard time.

With runways and public consultations high on the agenda, and a massive campaign over recent years, showing peak time TV programmes about how the airport operates, softening people’s attitudes – all about to be blown away, Heathrow caved in.

Talks to resolve the dispute have restarted with hours to go before the strike was due to start.

Airlines too, pressed Heathrow as 191 flights had already been cancelled Monday and many more were likely to go the same way Tuesday.

The reasons for the strikes are almost irrelevant – it’s about fair pay relative to corporate profit in both cases. It’s the way that the whole thing is portrayed and the dirty tricks used by each side to discredit the other.

The seemingly endless and growing disparity in pay between C-Suite and workers – a global phenomenon – is something that’s been warned about for years. Now the airlines and the airports are going to have to face the consequences.