Hit or Miss? Unite general secretary's Tweets disturb BA negotiations

What a Twit Unite's Derek Simpson caused controversy after turning to Twitter during sensitive strike talks.

The joint general secretary of the union sent a series of tweets, referring to the discussion with BA bosses. Newspaper reports suggested Simpson's tweets inspired protesters from the Socialist Workers' Party to turn up at the meeting, while BA chief executive Willie Walsh claimed Simpson was not taking the talks seriously.

How I see it

GEOFF BEATTIE, MD, Global Corporate Affairs, Cohn & Wolfe

By Tweeting during live negotiations with BA, Derek Simpson has destroyed the most precious value that good communications should enhance: trust.

A running, rambling commentary on Twitter could not conceivably serve any communications objective for Unite. By Tweeting, Simpson was distracting himself from the essential task in hand: achieving an honourable settlement with BA that would serve the interests of his members.

Instead, he attracted the attention of an extremist rabble who completely undermined the negotiations and put the BA chief executive in a position where he must have feared for his personal safety. Most seriously, Simpson has damaged Unite's reputation as a trusted partner in dispute negotiations. Good PR should do the opposite.


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