Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/613/8881

From The Socialist newspaper, 24 February 2010

British Airways cabin crew v management: Round two

THE UNITE union announced on Monday that British Airways (BA) cabin crew voted overwhelmingly for strike action. The ballot, which followed last December's injunction against planned strike action over Christmas, was passed by 80% on a 78% turnout.

Neil Cafferky

Although the yes vote was down from 92% in the previous ballot, one would search long and hard to find a politician from the three main parties re-elected in such an emphatic fashion.

The fall in the vote can be attributed to uncertainty over whether strike action would again be halted by the courts but more importantly to an onslaught of management intimidation and harassment of union activists in the run up to the dispute. This has included suspending 15 reps for comments made on social networking sites. Nonetheless, cabin crew have demonstrated they are prepared to resist the changes imposed on them to the very end.

Despite Unite going to great lengths to ensure the ballot fully complies with the anti-trade union laws, the threat of a court sabotaging action remains real. The independent scrutineer, the Electoral Reform Commission, has declared the ballot to be compliant with the Industrial Relations Act. However, the recent injunction on a strike by ship pilots in Milford Haven [see page 5] has again demonstrated the willingness of the courts to intervene on the side of the employer.

Unite has not yet named dates for strike action in the hope that progress can be made in negotiations with the company. All eyes will now turn to the joint branch meeting of cabin crew on 25 February.

While a deal cannot be ruled out it is difficult to see Willie Walsh (BA's chief executive) backing down on key union concerns over reductions of staffing and the introduction of a new workforce on inferior terms and conditions, without a serious fight.

Walsh may fear that if he fails to 'tame' the cabin crew he could well suffer the same fate as one of his predecessors, Bob Ayling. His position became untenable when he was defeated by a cabin crew strike in 1999.

For this reason BA's dual strategy of undermining the union through harassment of staff and attacking industrial action through the courts is likely to continue.

Legal threat

Cabin crew have demonstrated time and again their resilience to management bullying and ability to deliver effective industrial action. But if BA again secures an injunction this will pose a huge challenge to Unite and indeed the whole trade union movement.

If the largest private sector union branch in the country loses a high profile battle with a hard-nosed employer the results will be negative for the rest of the labour movement.

It will act as a green light for employers across the country to tear up agreements and embark on union busting, safe in the knowledge that industrial action can be sealed off by the courts.

Therefore cabin crew should not be left to face the onslaught of management and the courts alone. It may well be necessary to call on other Unite members and trade unionists employed at BA to come to the assistance of cabin crew through action of their own. Other groups of workers could fast track their own disputes and coordinate any strike action with cabin crew.

Where effective legal strike action proves to be impossible because of spurious technicalities then the question of unofficial action is posed. Nobody should be cavalier about unofficial industrial action but it must be considered when no other option is open short of surrender and where it is deliverable by the union members.

Solidarity

Unite should mobilise its members at Heathrow and beyond into a mass demonstration of support for the cabin crew around the airport and should publicly declare that the union will defy any injunction. Any move by the courts to sequestrate union funds should be met by Unite asking the whole trade union movement to come to its aid.

The undemocratic manner in which an unelected judge ruled their last strike ballot out of order and the possibility that this may happen again makes a discussion on these issues pressing.

Recent history in the Lindsey and the BA check-in disputes shows that in the face of a determined response from union members the anti-trade union laws can be exposed as a paper tiger.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 24 February 2010:

NHS: Not safe in their hands!

Private 'vultures' to run NHS hospital

How to stop cuts and defend public services

Demo opposes £29m Notts county cuts


Youth fight for jobs

Young people deserve a future: Join the Manchester march for jobs on 13 March

Youth Fight for Jobs Demonstrations


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)

RMT branch supports challenge to Denham

Support the TUSC election challenge

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition General Election launch rally


Socialist Party news and analysis

British Airways cabin crew v management: Round two

Anger on Teesside over Corus closure

ID cards - an expensive threat to civil liberties

Tories attack community café...

Yarl's Wood hunger strike

Fast news


Comment

The Eton co-op won't work


Unison witch-hunt

Nominate Roger Bannister: Unison's leadership battle

Unison witch-hunt continues


Workplace news and analysis

South Wales: Demo against council cuts

Staythorpe: the fight for workplace safety

Port workers battle bosses... and high court

Jobcentre staff fight cuts

Leeds university: Support lecturers striking to save jobs

Fighting leadership needed for UCU

CWU women vote for political review


International socialist news and analysis

CWI Latin America school: A continent on the brink

Iraq: All eyes on the oil prize


Socialist Party news and analysis

Campaigning rights victory: But questions remain on new Waltham Forest policy


Anti-racism

How can the racist BNP be defeated?

Scottish Defence League defeated: Working class political alternative urgently needed


 

Home   |   The Socialist 24 February 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

British Airways:

triangleMixed-fleet workers show strikes get results

triangleTravel chaos for Ryanair customers as airline cancels thousands of flights

triangleBA poverty pay dispute enters new phase of action

triangleBarts strike: Keep up the pressure on Serco and the trust!

triangleThree London strikes coordinate demos

Strike:

triangleDriving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

triangleSchool staff strike against privatisation

triangleTeachers strike in Sheffield

triangleDramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

Unite:

triangleLocal government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

triangleUnite protest against blacklisting

triangleArriva bus strikers stand firm

Trade union:

triangleObituary: Derek Robinson, car workers' leader, 1927-2017

triangleNew play celebrates Grunwick strike

Milford Haven:

triangleWhat recovery? Thousands more jobs axed

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

7/12/17

RMT

Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

6/12/17

Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

6/12/17

Transport

Arriva bus strikers stand firm

6/12/17

Pensions

BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes

6/12/17

PCS

Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

6/12/17

Newham

School staff strike against privatisation

6/12/17

Rail

Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services

6/12/17

PCS

PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference

6/12/17

North Yorkshire

Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters

6/12/17

Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest

6/12/17

Coventry

Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000

6/12/17

TUSC

TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections

6/12/17

Liverpool

Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students

6/12/17

Kirklees

Plans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle12 Dec Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangle12 Dec Liverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

triangle13 Dec Caerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2