Gate Gourmet cleverly hired 130 'seasonal workers' (read: 'cheap labour to whom there are no contractual obligations') at a time when permanent staff had been facing the prospect of redundancy for some months. Understandably miffed about being told there were no jobs for them at the same time as casual labour was being hired, about 350 workers walked out in an impromptu strike.
Gate gourmet sacked them all.
Then, when the afternoon shift turned up for work unaware of what had happened that morning, they too were also sacked in the confusion. The Antagonist would like to report that the managers then sacked themselves and committed Hari Kari but, as yet, that hasn't happened.
In the resulting chaos, passengers on 40 long-haul British Airways flights on the day were forced to fly without in-flight meals. Poor dears. 500 ex-Gate Gourmet workers and their families may have to sit at home without in-house meals but that's obviously not the issue when the comfort of airline passengers is at stake. That most of these passengers were attempting to escape for one or two of the three or four weeks they work 11 months of the year to be allowed to have to themselves is generally not a factor for consideration in these situations but The Antagonist is partial to mentioning the unmentionable every now and then.
The Gate Gourmet web site, proudly proclaims, "Welcome Onboard - Above the Wing and Around the World!" The Antagonist can only presume that Gate Gourmet management have been far too busy sacking people to worry about changing this to, "Bye Bye - Below the Belt and Bowing to Bankruptcy!"
How does this mass-sacking of staff get reported in the media? Let's take a look at a few of the world's headlines:
- Channel 4: More that 40 BA flights without food
- Guardian: In-flight meals off BA menu after catering dispute
- CNN: BA flights take off without food
- BBC News: No meals on BA long-haul flights
- The Telegraph: Union row stops BA in-flight food
- The Independent: No pie in the sky as strike ends BA's flight meals
- Forbes: Some British Airway Flights Have No Food
- This is Money: BA's passengers pack their own lunches
Eight stories about poor passengers with no in-flight meals, and no mention of the sacking of 500 employees in any of the headlines. Bringing up the rear, we have:
- CatererSearch UK: Gate Gourmet Sacks 500 Workers, and
- The Mirror: Heathrow fiasco as caterers axe 500 staff on spot
This technique of using headlines that focus on side-issues, rather than the issue at the heart of the matter, is used to great effect to hide the real issues, shape public opinion and then the nature of acceptable public debate that ensues.
Watch out for it, it's everywhere.