BA pension scheme news yet another anti-staff move

This week’s BA pension scheme news that it is considering closing its main defined-benefit scheme to save costs, is yet another rung in the downward spiral that the carrier appears to have been on in recent years.

British Airways announced this week that if the plans went ahead, employees would no longer be able to make payments into the BA pension scheme. Of course, the move has been met with union “disappointment” and follows protracted strike action over the past few months by employees who were disenchanted with the airline even before this announcement was made.

The strike action has been due to an ongoing pay dispute between the airline and its crew. In the past, British Airways was renowned for paying well. Staff report that pay and perks have continuously eroded over the years.

British Airways staff were once proud to be associated with the airline. The litany of strikes must have had an impact on staff morale, but may also have negatively impacted the perception of travellers using the airline.

This isn’t helped by the airline employing a knee-jerk reaction to competition and changing their strategy continuously. They’re trying to be innovative, introducing new double-decker food trays, an array of tail-fins, etc., but these ploys don’t have their employee’s wellbeing in mind and have backfired spectacularly.

While in the past, there was perhaps an arrogant opinion that no matter what, “people would want to fly with BA” and low-cost carriers were no threat, we’re dealing with a new generation of traveller now. One that demands quality and will pay more for better flight times, airport infrastructure, good food and service.

The product used by British Airways today, however, is behind many of its competitors. The airport lounges are managed by third-party companies and are to a large extent shabby, and the conditions onboard the aircraft, in my opinion, in poor condition.

I see dust in air vents, food stains on TVs, dirty carpets and only a few weeks ago there was an article about a passenger who claimed he had to sit in a urine-soaked seat. British Airways defended the indefensible by stating simply that all flights are cleaned after landing.

British Airways used to enjoy superior status among travellers and staff. The British Airways of today can no longer rest on its laurels of yesteryear.  To be considered an attractive employer in future, it will need to take a serious look at where it is failing its staff.

To quote a rather famous competitor of British Airways: “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”

With this in mind, British Airways would do well to fix their staffing issues and basic customer experience – food and clean facilities – before introducing fancy tail-fins. Getting rid of the BA pension scheme to save costs is certainly not what one would consider looking after your staff.

Check out our recent blog on motivating demotivated employees here