“spiked” writes in support of striking British Airways cabin crew

British online magazine “spiked” has published an article by Tim Black supporting striking British Airways cabin crew. The strike was announced last Monday by Unite, the union of which the striking cabin crew are members.

The article makes a very good point about how strikes are seen and reported these days: this is not seen by people as workers standing up for themselves, but as a mere inconvenience to passengers:

However, to say there’s been little in the way of public sympathy for the actions of the cabin crew would be an understatement. Much like the London Tube strike earlier this year, the reaction from the hundreds of thousands of passengers likely to be affected has been largely hostile. Only 10 times more so, given that it’s not just a case of getting to work late, but of not getting home for Christmas. As far as many affected are concerned, this is atrocious customer service.

In fact, the public discussion of the planned cabin crew strike has been framed almost entirely in terms of the individual consumer. It seems to be the only perspective available. The BBC News website doesn’t offer an analysis of the conflicting interests at stake; it offers advice on ‘how else to get around this Christmas’. The Times doesn’t address the concerns of businessmen; it addresses the worries of the disgruntled customer – ‘Don’t rush to buy another flight, just wait and see’, a column urges. Throughout the coverage and public discussion, the only relationship one can seemingly have with the strike is that of a consumer to a disrupted service.

I also noticed this in the reaction to complaints about last week’s bus strike in Brisbane. There was almost universal disgust with the bus drivers and the union and very little sympathy for their right to stand up for themselves via striking. I don’t know how to convince more people to automatically, or at least generally, see the point of view of striking workers.

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