The planes were flying this Bank Holiday weekend although for a long time it looked as if the conflict between BAA and the trade union Unite would spoil the big holiday getaway. The resolution of their dispute shows the importance of maintaining a dialogue and of working problems through to a resolution together.
The Coalition Government has shown its commitment to deep and significant public spending cuts and the impact of these on public and private sector alike will be felt throughout the life of this parliament. With so many industries reliant on government spending, BAA will not be the only employer struggling to deal with industrial unrest.
The Trade Union movement may well be a shadow of its former self but if the country’s biggest union is prepared to threaten strike action that could see six airports closed over a one per cent pay increase, what will they do when the biggest cuts to the public sector start to arrive?
Facilities Managers are very familiar with the pressures that financial demands can place on an operation. Enforced budget cuts often have to be passed down the supply chain and comfortable relationships can quickly change to a more adversarial position.
In these situations a collaborative dialogue is most important. Both parties need to understand the situation that the other is in and must recognise the necessity of making changes. By maintaining effective communication there is the opportunity to find a solution that is acceptable to both parties.
One of the clear issues behind the BAA and Unite situation was the perceived lack of trust between the unions and the government. A similar trust shortfall has dogged the FM sector for many years, polarising opinion between clients and suppliers. Sometimes this has been justified; often it has been entirely misplaced.
These situations can only be resolved if the main protagonists speak to one another about their concerns, and develop a clear ongoing and constructive dialogue. Let’s hope that a similar open and frank communication can be created between the unions and the coalition government to avoid the difficult period of change ahead of us all.