The recession has affected many businesses, many people, and many families. The news about British Airways losing money is further evidence of this. Personally, I couldn’t be happier that this airline is losing money – I don’t like flying, I don’t approve of their practices and I think people should cut down on such a polluting hobby. But this attitude leaves me with a dilemma – what about the staff?
A member of my family works for another high profile airline as cabin crew, and we clash over environmental aspects. She does not have a problem with flying, and more so when I comment about various ethical problems I have with it, she states that people need to visit areas to see what is happening on the ground. I don’t doubt that. I am not advocating a total annihilation of airlines (though a huge decrease would be great). I do not think there should be a third runway at Heathrow, nor do I think there should be short haul flights, period. Although I do realise that the problems with other forms of transport (trains etc) means that people do take short haul flights for convenience sake.
However, nor do I agree with staff being treated the way BA staff are. Missing a months wage is a drop in the ocean for Willie Walsh’s salary; not so much for the lesser paid staff. Will Hutton in the Observer on Sunday 21 June 2009, made an interesting point about the situation – that most people would prefer to reduce their hours than be made redundant. It will also, probably be less severe for younger people who do not have homes and/or family commitments. And when the economic situation improves, I do not particularly want BA to thrive. That does not mean, however, I do not have sympathy for its staff. Hutton argues that there might not be any other way than cutting your hours and that the company should give the workers shares, as has happened with BA pilots.
I often think about where I would stand if I was politically aware in the eighties during the miners’ strikes (I was born in 1985). Nine times out of 10, when someone strikes, I support them. And the miners are no different. But what they are doing, digging up a dirty fuel, I don’t agree with. The Socialist Labour Party, one of two I was torn between voting for at the European elections, has many good policies, an elected head of state being one of them. But they also advocate coal, albeit clean coal. I’m not sure entirely how much I support the idea of clean coal, or carbon capture and storage and whether it will work or not. I would have to think very carefully about whom I would support, but if it was the oppressive state vs. working class, it would be the latter every time.