Dear GMB Member,
Mental Health Awareness week
As some of you will know, this is Mental Health Awareness week – and protecting our mental health has never had more significance than it does now for the GMB at BA. At the bottom of this bulletin are some links that we hope you will find useful.
Apparently there are reports on social media that BA have deleted a press release where they pledged to ‘change the way we think about mental health in the workplace’, due to the adverse publicity it was likely to generate.
Whether these reports are true or not, there is no doubt that BA have utterly failed in the ‘Duty of Care’ obligations they have as an employer.
The following is a direct quote from BA’s One website, in the section called ‘Well-being during Covid-19’: ‘If you are staying at home more than you usually would, it might feel more difficult than usual to take care of your mental health and wellbeing.’
This statement makes it clear that BA are fully aware of the vulnerability of the mental health of their staff at this time. So their behaviour in the last few weeks can only be described as indefensible.
They must have known that the timing of their announcements – together with the approach they have chosen to take – would have the maximum impact on the stress and anxiety levels of their staff.
Bullying and Harassment
The following is a direct quote from BA’s policy, EG102, ‘Bullying and Harassment’.
‘Examples of harassment and bullying may include: behaviour which an individual knows or ought reasonably to know would cause or be likely to cause fear or excessive anxiety to another’.
Yet we are getting regular reports from members in tears and desperation because they have chosen not to participate in Microsoft Teams ‘consultation’ meetings. They are finding that their managers are constantly phoning them at home and refusing to leave them alone until they have answered – just so that a box somewhere can be ticked saying they have participated in a consultation.
Worse still is the behaviour of senior managers across the business who insist on reminding their people what ‘Day’ of the consultation process they have reached, implying that we are on a 45-day countdown to disaster. This constant reference to timescales is unprecedented. Even at times when the company was much closer to the brink, this obsession with deadlines was not in evidence.
It is impossible to come up with another explanation of this behaviour than that they are trying to encourage our members to get us to withdraw our objections to the legality and immorality of their ‘consultation’ process.
And the method they have chosen to do so – by encouraging a state of panic amongst their people – seem to us to fit exactly with the company’s own definition of bullying and harassment.
It could be different
Of course we are not denying that there are serious problems to be confronted. None of us are blind to the state of the country in general – and the aviation industry in particular. So we would expect BA to approach us about how best to respond to the challenges we are all facing.
And, had they done so according to our agreements, like the Redeployment Process
Agreement, this would have been done in a very different way, by coming to us with the problems and looking to work jointly with the staff and the unions to find solutions.
Instead they have chosen to make threats and introduce artificial deadlines at a time when the majority of their staff are isolated and at home. In the process have put the already fragile well-being of their loyal staff in jeopardy.
They should hang their heads in shame.
To watch a short video about Kindness Matters, click on the link: https://youtu.be/Qcyc68d6OAk
For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, visit: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week?bblinkid=223958230&bbemailid=21947191&bbejrid=1508505580
If you would like to talk to someone, here are some useful contacts:
Samaritans: 116 123 (available 24/7)
Mind: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri 0900-1800)
Take care, stay strong,
GMB National Officer.