Socialist Worker

Unite should re-ballot BA cabin crew for strikes

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2183

A court injunction stopped a planned strike by some 14,000 cabin crew workers at British Airways (BA) from going ahead last month.

The workers were set to strike for 12 days from 22 December. They voted by over 92 percent for action on a turnout of 80 percent.

The fact that a court can override this clear, democratic will of thousands of workers is a disgrace.

Workers overwhelmingly voted for action in response to attacks by BA bosses. Management want to slash jobs, cut or freeze pay and cut allowances.

In November it imposed drastic cuts without union agreement, leading to bitter anger among workers.

The court ruled in favour of BA management’s argument that the workers’ Unite union had not correctly balloted its members. BA had argued that workers had been balloted who were leaving the company.


Yet no one claims that, if these votes were discounted, the result would have been any different. And the injunction resolves none of the issues behind the dispute.

Unite has promised to re-ballot if BA does not back down, and a second ballot could begin on 14 January. But union officials are still hoping to negotiate with BA bosses.

It should be clear that BA is not interested in negotiating.

Unite was right to call a 12-day strike. It reflected the determined mood among workers and showed BA bosses that cabin crew are serious about fighting the cuts.

The anti-union laws fly in the face of the democratic decisions of thousands of workers.

The law needs to be challenged.

The only way to win is for unions to refuse to back down in the face of injunctions and threats and strike regardless.

At very least Unite should begin the re-ballot now and call a militant programme of strike action.

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Article information

Tue 5 Jan 2010, 18:00 GMT
Issue No. 2183
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