Socialist Worker

Ruling against BA strike is a knife at every worker's throat

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2202

The outrageous decision to outlaw strikes at British Airways is directed against everyone who wants to see resistance to the Tory cuts.

It is designed to break the fightback, and that is why workers must confront it with all their strength.

Lord Justice McCombe’s high court ruling on Monday against BA cabin crew shows that British “justice” can always be relied on to back the rich and the powerful.

If they decide to do so, bosses can use the courts to halt any strike by seizing upon technicalities.

Workers’ democratic votes mean nothing—there is no right to strike. An unelected judge can blithely set aside the crystal-clear decisions of workers.

His judgment will cheer every bullying boss and every politican who wants to savage services.

McCombe deemed the planned strike illegal because the Unite union “may well have failed” to adequately inform its members of the ballot result.

“I am unable to say it is sufficiently clear that the union took the steps required by law at the time they were required,” he said.

The judge found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the union’s part, but said that the “balance of convenience” meant he would rule the strike illegal.

The fact that workers had already held seven days of strikes without challenge from the bosses meant nothing.

It is legal to sack workers, cut their pay and tear up their conditions.

But if workers try to fight back there is such a thicket of laws that a judge can always declare action illegal.

BA cabin crew voted overwhelmingly for strikes in a ballot in February. There is no question of the results of the ballot being inaccurate.

Given the scale of media coverage, no one can say that workers were unaware of the result. The truth is BA was scared of the strikes. So it got its lawyers to break them in the courts.

The conclusion is clear. The bosses and the government are on the offensive against workers—and the entire union movement has to fight back.


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