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Daily View: BA and Unite dispute

Clare Spencer | 09:05 UK time, Thursday, 20 May 2010

Commentators consider whether BA cabin crew should strike.

Seumas Milne argues in the Guardian that the right to strike is being threatened by the courts:

"Unite is hoping to be rescued tomorrow by, of all people, the lord chief justice and the master of the rolls, who are due to rule on the union's appeal in the morning. But even if they throw out the original judgment, the BA ban is only the most extreme of what is fast becoming a high court habit of declaring null and void democratic votes in the workplace.
"On Tuesday it was the turn of the National Union of Journalists, whose strike at the Johnston local newspaper group was outlawed over whether the company or its subsidiaries was the direct employer. Last month the Rail Maritime and Transport union had a strike banned at Network Rail on another technicality. In December, an earlier Unite ballot at BA was thrown out by the courts over yet another. Eight such injunctions have already been imposed this year, compared with four in the whole of 2006."

In the Daily Mail Melanie Phillips isn't sympathetic
to the strikes:

"These strikes lump Unite and the crews it represents as one solid militant block, facing Willie Walsh across the barricades. But is this union really representative of its members? For whatever their grievances with the BA management, surely nothing justifies using the poor, suffering passengers as hostages like this. And those crews just don't look like the kind of people one associates with such militant contempt for the public."

In the Independent Andy McSmith detects trouble within Unite the Union:

"Unite is so large and fragmented that a more apt name for it would be Disunite. It is not a monolith but an amalgam of unions brought together in a two-headed monster run by competing general secretaries, Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson...
"BA's cabin crews see Unite as an outside body paid to give professional back up to Bassa's shop stewards, and since that advice had led to two unfavourable court judgements, some are wondering whether they are getting their money's worth."

The Daily Mail editorial says BA needs to regain the goodwill of customers:

"The Mail repeats: We have enormous respect for BA cabin crew, who work with great courtesy and good humour.
"But at this dreadful time, when jobs are at risk throughout the economy, we ask in genuine bafflement: What have they to gain by bringing BA to its knees?"

In the Independent Mark Steel pokes fun at the reason for the original ballot to strike being banned:

"At last, someone's come up with a clean, decisive system for holding elections. The way it works is everyone has a vote, and then the management of British Airways and a judge decide the result. They've tried this method with the ballot for a strike amongst cabin crews, who voted 7,482 to 1,789 in favour. So the courts ruled that this didn't count because the Unite union didn't mention, in some of its announcements, that 11 ballot papers had been spoilt.
"There has been the odd critic of this ruling, such as the President of North Korea who said, "Oh that's going TOO far", but you can see BA's point."

More from the BBC

BBC NewsBA union Unite waits to hear strike appeal decision

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