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The Two Hundred Million Pound Strike

The 2003 British Airways Walkout


Ed Blissett

This book describes and analyses the 2003 British Airways (BA) Customer Service Agents’ (CSA) 24-hour unofficial strike. It examines the lead up to the dispute, in which negotiations failed to reach an agreement over the launch of BA’s Automatic Time Recording and Integrated Airport Resource Management systems, before focusing on the dispute itself and its eventual resolution.

Central to the book is the question: why did a group of union members, the majority of whom were young women, become so incensed at an imposed change to their working practices that they took unofficial strike action? This they did in the knowledge that they could all have been legally dismissed.

In analysing the strike, the book explores why BA’s management imposed such a controversial change to working practices on the company’s busiest weekend of the year. A decision which, allegedly, cost the company two-hundred-million pounds, tarnished its reputation, and saw numerous senior managers lose their jobs.

How and why the CSAs’ three trade unions (the GMB Union, the Transport and General Workers Union and Amicus) reacted in such different ways to the unofficial strike, and then behaved so differently in the subsequent negotiations, is also central to this study.

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Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.

Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche National-bibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Blissett, Ed, author.

Title: The two-hundred-million pound strike : the 2003 British Airways walkout / Ed Blissett.

Description: Oxford ; New York : Peter Lang, [2021] | Series: Trade unions past, present and future, 1662-7784 ; vol. 26 | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2020039118 (print) | LCCN 2020039119 (ebook) |ISBN 9781800790599 (paperback) | ISBN 9781800790681 (ebook) |ISBN 9781800790698 (epub) | ISBN 9781800790704 (mobi)

Subjects: LCSH: British Airways--Management--History--21st century. | Airline check-in agents--Great Britain--History--21st century. | Strikes and lockouts--Airlines--Great Britain--History--21st century. | Airlines--Employees--Labor unions--Great Britain--History--21st century.

Classification: LCC HE9843.B7 B55 2021 (print) | LCC HE9843.B7 (ebook) |DDC 331.892/8138774220941090511--dc23

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