I was pleased to learn this evening that British Airways won their court case against the “UNITE” Trade Union with the result that flights for many thousands of people will not now be disrupted over Christmas and the New Year. It was always a bizarre decision by UNITE to force a 12 day strike on their staff members. Many of us hoped that the days of prolonged strikes in former public sector companies were long gone.
The dinosaurs in UNITE have seriously miscalculated this time. It is true that there was an overwhelming vote by staff for industrial action but friends I know in BA have told me that they thought that they were voting for a series of one or two day strikes and not two weeks over the main winter holiday period. I was interested to learn that some BA staff are planning to resign from UNITE in frustration at their inability to legally conduct a national ballot and the high level decision to go for a 12 day strike.
British Airways has been operating on a financial knife edge for some time and one of their biggest costs is staff pay. We are not talking about low paid staff either. BA staff are amongst the very best paid in the business and the company was not proposing to change this. However, they were planning to cut 1 to 3 staff from flights; something that many other private sector companies have done in these difficult economic times.
If BA staff want to secure their jobs and the future of their company then they must not allow themselves to be used by militant dinosaurs in the Trade Union movement. I very much hope that if there is a second ballot for industrial action that UNITE members will reflect on how badly they have been served by the national Union leadership and the importance of helping their company to compete in the modern world. Upsetting customers in a highly competitive industry is not the recipe for success and job security.
The courts have today given BA a second chance. Now both the company management and the staff must find a way to work together for mutual benefit.