BA CEO blames failed strike talk on union boss’s tweets

Strike talks between British Airways and workers’ union Unite collapsed after it emerged that live updates on negotiations were being broadcast on social networking platform Twitter.

Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of Unite, is reported to have revealed the location of the talks via the microblogging service. This led to members of the Socialist Workers Party protesting outside the venue where they were taking place.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh now blames Simpson’s use of Twitter for the breakdown in discussions. “I was shocked and angry … when I found out that Derek was doing that," he said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday. “He was sitting opposite me and he did have his BlackBerry out, I thought he was responding to an email or a text message but when I found out that he was actually sending his version of events to the wider audience, that really did undermine my confidence in their desire to resolve the issue.”

The five day strike by BA employee, motivated by a dispute over jobs, pay and working conditions, begins today. Two further walkouts are planned in the next two weeks.

The leakage of sensitive information through employee social networking is a concern for organisations, and many restrict access to such sites as a result. As this example demonstrates, it is the social media activity of senior employees than can be most disastrous.

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

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