Swipe card system prompted Heathrow staff walkout

British Airways managers are locked in talks with union staff over the introduction of a controversial employee monitoring system...

British Airways managers have been locked in talks with unions over the introduction of a controversial employee monitoring system that promoted a staff walkout last week and days of delayed flights.


The electronic swipe-card system, supplied by Mitrefinch software, was due to be rolled out for check-in and ticketing staff this week but has been delayed due to staff concerns over its impact on working practices.


Hundreds of BA check-in staff and ticket agents walked out in protest over the new system last Friday - causing days of delays to flights. BA is currently in discussions with unions over the system.


A spokesman for BA said that the new system would allow it to keep an accurate record of the shift patterns worked by staff and also help it meet workplace regulations such as the European Union working time directive. It will replace a paper-based system.


British Airways ground-handling staff at Heathrow has used the swipe card system since 2000, the spokesman added.


Analysts said the stand-off highlighted the need for managers to win the support of staff before introducing new technology with an impact on working practices.


“The technology is not that uncommon and most people have got used to clocking on and off at work over decades,” said Tony Lock, chief analyst at Bloor Research.


"Smart card technology is the replacement for clocking on and off with machines although it is much more sophisticated and allows you to see where staff are in the building.”



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