The PR of strikes

Published on 16 August 2004 in , ,

I never cease to be surprised by the stupidity of some unions. Any strike is a PR disaster for a union, but some unions seem to revel in making the disruption for the public as great as possible.

Witness the latest nutcases – the GMB union staff at British Airways – who have decided that their strike will be either the 27th, 28th, 29th or 30th of August. August Bank Holiday. One of the busiest points of the year for holidays.

If they go ahead, it will be a complete PR disaster for them. The tabloids will have a field day because then they have extra fuel to brand the strikers as greedy and selfish – based merely on the fact that they’ve cynically gone for the biggest impact they can get. But if that’s the treatment they get, they’ll have got off lightly. Blackmail. ‘Holding the country to ransom’. Emotive words and if they’re not in the tabloid press, I’d be surprised. And it certainly never helps when unions turn down 8.5% payrises (union comments about how little the staff earn will naturally be disregarded by disgruntled people who have been given far far less extra pay.)

Unions seem to want to go for the biggest impact without thinking through the consequences. From a PR point of view, it plays completely into the hands of the management who can stand there on TV telling the nation that they want people to have nice holidays, but hey, these crazy union people don’t want you to!

Presumably the logic is that the bigger the target, the more the easier management will fall for the union demands Does it make BA roll over and play ball? I would be surprised if it did. Why should they? After all, they’ll have the public on their side…

The logical solution is of course to strike on a less busy day – thus attracting less negative PR. Of course this doesn’t look particularly exciting to the average union official who has the mindset, so will never happen.

Of course this post has nothing at all to do with the fact that I will be turning up at Gatwick on one of the aforementioned proposed strike days where I will attempt to travel by BA to Glasgow – funnily enough the day I’m flying is Saturday, 28 August – probably be the quietest of the whole weekend, and the day which the union will probably pick if they don’t want to look like completely cynical gits…

So much for a nice relaxing weekend away.