Thursday, December 17, 2009

British Airways Strike Ban

Whatever you think about the appropriateness of the proposed Unite British Airways strike - today’s High Court "ban" is bringing the British legal process and democracy itself into disrepute (IMO). 92.5% of union members balloted voted in favour of strike action. The reason for the "ban" is that the union wrongly balloted a very small number of former members who had left recently. These handful of members would have had no impact whatsoever on the overall result in favour of strike action.

The right to withhold your Labour in an industrial dispute is a basic human Right. There has to be reasonable checks and balances but the law is making it practically impossible to exercise this Right. We rightly criticise dictatorships that ban workers from striking. I’m not comparing Britain in any way to such countries but frankly using this law in this way just demeans us all.

Just slagging off the Labour Government for not reforming the trade unions laws enough isn’t going to change things. Trade unions need to think and work out why we haven’t so far won this argument?


ModernityBlog said...

"Trade unions need to think and work out why we haven’t so far won this argument?"

I think its got very little to do with arguments, it would be rather quaint and naive if senior Labour politicians and those that schedule legislation were merely won over by arguments, or the force of words.

Rather trade unions will have to use their purse strings if they want this legislation.

Very little else will persuade Labour leaders that they are serious, until they start to cut off Labour funding.

At that particular point the Labour leadership might become amenable, but until then arguments won't do much on their own, as we've seen.

plymdaz said...

I absolutely agree that slagging off the Labour government isn't going to change things - but it has to be done as they haven't exactly helped matters have they?

The Labour government has become detached from the mass of the party, something that was allowed to happen during the 1990's during the quest to become 'electable' again. What needs to happen is the people at the top need to remember where the party came from and start delivering - or face having their funding taken away. Ultimately that's the final sanction we have to express our displeasure, although they'll probably get an injunction if we try it.
But we need to start wielding our influence again. We are either the biggest donater or one of the top three, it's about time they started to fricking listen to us again!

John Gray said...

Hi MB and Plymdaz.

I agree to a point but the only problem is that there are some in the Party who would be quite relaxed if the unions stopped funding since they would rather a switch to state funding of political parties.

I think the issue is a wider one. I don't think we are wining the wider argument with the public.

Paul said...

After 12 years of a Labour government a trade union has been stopped from taking action by totally undemocratic laws bought in by the Tories and left alone by Labour. And your reaction is to try and sheild the Labour Party from any blame, typical. If it's "not enough slagging off the Labour government" and obviously you don't want unions to stop funding the party, so you don't really leave us with many options. So what do you think should be done?.

Anonymous said...

It's quite simple..if you want to strike just stick to the law and don't put yourself above it. I'm glad they have been stopped. A victory for democracy! If the Union can't even organise their HR records properly they shouldn't complain about BA's running of the company. If you can't get the small things right how do you expect to manage the big things? I would be laughing in the negotiations listening to the Union arguing with the company whilst knowing they can't even organise a ballot. What a bunch of amateurs. Can't even organise a ballot! Hopeless! It's not hard...just organise yourselves in a professional manner.

Anonymous said...

it was the 12 days wot lost it

How can they have some of the most respected and photogenic workers in any union and lose the media war

Their arguments are sound and understandable

the unions national/branch campaign statergy was poorly advised

We have to be more on the ball

Anonymous said...

What rubbish? Claiming they are victims? Who do they think they are kidding.

Tom said...

Hi all,

just a quick point to the anon who seems to think organising a ballot under the current laws is a piece of cake. Speaking as someone who has done so a few times and once very recently I can tell you there are very many pitfalls. I hope that you are such a talented organiser that you have found the process easy. I have not fallen foul of the courts but have found the whole process very demanding. On that basis I would not condemn my UNITE comrades for incompetance.

On the pertinant issue of where to go now I suggest to return with membership and give them the lead in the dispute. If they do strike, they will be at the cutting edge and so will know better than me what is and what is not achievable.

If any affected member reads this please accept my best wishes and solidarity.


Mike Law said...

The Conservative Trades Union legislation was an ill conceived knee-jerk reaction to the perceived power of Unions over parliamentary democracy, and I'm as surprised as most that, in twelve years of government, Labour hasn't re-visited this legislation.

However, I am interested in your views on state funding for political parties - good or bad?

Anonymous said...

doesnt boris johnson claaim the bankers are victims and they need more help

the man who came to power stating he would stop knife crime and get rid of poor advisors and bendy buses


the only thing hes done is increase fares, cut money to the volunatary sector, treated the job as part time mayor (spends alll his time at the Spectator)

Now hes scrapping free travel on Christ,as eve

now lets see how many people die as a result of drink driving

upper class fool

Anonymous said...

Organisng a ballot has many pitfalls? Sorry if you find this tough - if you can't manage it then I suggest your members might want to elect a representatvive with more appropriate skills. Excluding people from the vote who no longer work for BA doesn't seem desperately hard to me.

Lexa said...

As a UK employee it is with growing concern that I watch this story unfold and I find it refreshing to see that I am not alone questioning the health of our democracy.

What options does any workforce have of getting their voices heard when the employer shuts the doors, the consumer doesn't care and the judiciary favours peace and quiet?

Anonymous said...

Lets do it the American way
and not strike -

just do your job in a half arse way

Anonymous said...

Many BA staff have been doing it in a half arse way for's one of the worst International carriers out there, and by choice most of my colleagues avoid flying BA like the plague.

John Gray said...

Hi Paul
I actually think that the reaction to this latest bit of nonsense will be for the affiliated unions to lobby the government for change. I think that this is achievable. But we need a Labour government re-elected next year to have any chance of this.
Hi Anon 1.56
You deliberately miss the point. The issue is that the number of members “wrongly” (for whatever reasons) balloted would have not materially affected the outcome.
Hi Anon 19.19
It’s a view but again does not address the central democratic deficit.
Hi Tom
Good points!
Hi Mike
On the whole bad. Talk about that in another post.
Hi Anon 07.29
Hi Lexa
Thank you for that and good luck with your struggle in the New Year.
Hi Silly anon
I have been on BA a few times now and think that the staff are superb. A seasonable greeting that I do hope you don’t have your wages and terms and conditions slashed in the future.