Tuesday, May 18, 2010

11 Ballot Papers? Willie Walsh, I Hope That You're Blushing

The High Court ruling yesterday blocking the planned strike by BA cabin crew on the most ludicrous of technicalities does profound discredit to BA and to the Law.

The strike was stopped because Unite, the union, had failed to notify those balloted, which I believe numbered between 10,000 and 11,000 employees, that 11 ballot papers were spoiled.

This is the law, interested parties are telling the tv and the newspapers.

Leave aside that there was an overwhelming vote in favour of strike action. Leave aside that the 11 spoiled papers would have had no effect on the outcome of the ballot if they'd been correctly completed and counted into the total number of votes. It's the law.

It's a stupid law when it has no impact on the outcome of the vote. Just one of many unreasonable, obstructive and petty pieces of legislation introduced by Thatcher and her cronies, and not repealed by Blair or Brown, to restrict a man or woman's right to withdraw their labour -- at the inconvenience of their employer, yes: that's the point -- to settle an industrial dispute.

Governments of all hues these days lean into money and away from the smell of raw humanity.

But it makes no sense for BA to use this technicality to prevent the strike because Unite only has to ballot its members again, and observe the petty rules more correctly this time, to continue what has been so stupidly interrupted. They will also have caused more anger and resentment among the cabin crews, which won't do anybody much good when it comes to achieving an actual resolution of the dispute.

My sense, though, is that BA doesn't want a resolution. Not with Unite, or its supporters among the crews. I think Willie Walsh wants to drive the union out of the workforce. And the new Liberal/ Conservative Coalition, with its aversion to any principle other than materialism, will undoubtedly go along with that (and it won't matter if the LibDem backbenchers object, since Nick Clegg bargained away their own right to vote freely).

The majority of the British public will go along with any plan to deunionise the BA workforce too, since strikes get in the way of nice sunny holidays.

Any industrial action that gets in the way of consumerism seems beyond the pale for the average citizen in 2010. Railwaymen? Bah! I have to be in Birmingham for a seminar tomorrow! The selfishness, and the naivete that demonstrates about how the industrial system works, is staggering.

Why do they think unions were formed, putting early members in great danger, in the first place? Because people are nice when they have swimming pools and yachts and 24-hour nannies to protect? Because society is really, intrinsically fair?

Yeah, right.

If Charles Dickens came back to life today, he'd be banging his head in frustration wondering why the hell nobody listened.


Bruce Hodder said...
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Bruce Hodder said...

The judgement of the appeal court in favour of Unite in this case really surprised me; and I feel I should acknowledge that. Readers may be able to enlighten me, but I can't remember another dispute in recent times when the courts have found in favour of the union rather than the employer. Will it be the beginning of a trend? The dawn of a new age in which the Law at least takes a balanced, objective view of industrial relations? I fear not; but I fervently hope so.