Today's Mail has a deeply unpleasant piece about the BA strike, showing pictures of staff enjoying themselves on planes, and not on planes - how dare they do so? The implication is: how can they possibly claim that their working lives are anything other than wonderful, because here are some pictures of people smiling?
Have a look at the photos on the Mail's website if you like; there's no real point in me putting them up here. Do they really show a different side to the company? I'm sure you can find pictures of all kinds of workers being happy at certain times - one of the pictures shows workers in Christmas hats - but that doesn't mean that everything in the garden's rosy.
I hope one day Sam Greenhill asks for a pay rise at the Mail and is shown a series of photos of him having fun at the office party. "But why on earth can you possibly be asking for more?" he'll be told. "These pictures clearly show a different side to your claims that you need a pay rise. Now fuck off and clean the toilets." Not that that'll happen, of course, but it would be a rather delicious irony.
Are the people in the pictures even workers who are going on strike, anyway?
These 'insiders' will often handily turn up at times of industrial disputes. The unnamed 'sources' will accuse workers of all kinds of shady practices; and since no individuals are named, no-one can do anything about it, except deny it. Except, there's no response from the union side to the article, no right of reply to these claims. Did it happen or not? Who knows. I wouldn't fall off my chair if this article slipped away all of a sudden in the future, its work already having been done, or if a much smaller and less prominent one popped up putting the union's side in the dispute. That's the way these things work sometimes, it seems. But the mud sticks: the impression given is of cabin crew larking about and having a right old laugh at the customers' expense, with all kinds of shady things going on.
You might say it's preaching to the converted, as Mail readers might not necessarily be the kind of people you'd expect to be backing the strikers in an industrial dispute, but that's beside the point. And there's another dirtier side to this story as well:
As ever, the handy 'source' pops up to tell Mail readers exactly what they would disapprove of most; that's rather convenient isn't it? Porn actors! Men masturbating on phones! A man who might be *whispers* flamboyantly gay! Heavens! Horrors! Prostitution! Hookups! Extra-marital sex! And not even Facebook to blame this time!
Ugh. This is damning evidence all right: damning evidence of thoroughly low journalism, at its very worst. Getting an anonymous (and highly convenient for management's purposes, it isn't entirely irrelevant to point out) 'source' to stick the boot into striking workers is pretty shabby, whatever you might think of the strike and its merits; and showing pictures of people occasionally having fun doesn't mean that they necessarily don't deserve what they're asking for either. So people have fun at work - so what? Do we want people in the service industry to be miserable bastards? I don't think I do. I don't give a shit whether they're having group sex in the galley with a Mariachi band playing on. I couldn't give a flying fuck. What matters to me, when I buy an airline ticket or anything else, is the quality of service I get, and whether the plane's on time.
There might be a genuine argument to be had over the value or otherwise of this dispute, but this article is certainly nothing to do with that. It's just plane nasty.
*update* I generally don't look 'below the line' at reader comments any more, because they make me want to rub broken glass and bleach over my face just to stop it hurting for a bit, but this little gem was pointed out to me (thanks to @RiddlerMusic):
Rated positively by readers, that comment.