Ban on industrial action overturned

Just when people thought they might be able to get their BA flight they are once again disappointed. Today a panel of senior judges, including the Lord Chief Justice, overturned the ban on industrial action. The panel ruled 2-1 in favour of overturning the injunction. 

This was welcomed by Unite members who sang "we are the champions" after the verdict was announced. But Unite's joint leader Derek Simpson was rather more sombre: "This is not a moment for being triumphant. We shouldn't have been in this process.”

Simpson was referring to the original case brought by BA, which claimed Unite had improperly reported results of their strike ballots. Although it would be easy to mistake Simpson’s words as an objection to BA cabin crew striking in the first place.

BA is in a bad way. They about to post a loss this year of £600 million – their largest since 1987, and this strike could cost them another £140 million. Not to mention the cost of the disruption to flights this week because of the initial ruling on Monday.

Changes in working practices for cabin crew to improve efficiency – which are desperately needed - would still mean that existing crew will remain the best rewarded in the UK industry. But according to Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of BA, British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (Bassa) – a subsidiary of Unite – cannot accept any changes to working practices and are up for a “guerrilla campaign”. This campaign is “designed to undermine customers’ faith in British Airways and inflict as much commercial damage as possible.”

Bassa need to think carefully before throwing its weight around. By attempting to undermine customers’ faith in BA they are biting the hand that feeds their members. Or as Walsh put it they are attacking “the customers and business that provide their members with well-rewarded jobs, generous pensions and enviable lifestyles.” Unite also have to think about their other thousands of members employed in different parts of BA’s business, who benefit from the (rapidly declining) reputation of BA being one of the best airlines in the world.

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