The planned industrial action by British Airways cabin crew will not take place.
The High Court in London granted British Airways an injunction against any action. Justice Cox ruled that the ballot was not legal due to the fact that the cabin crew’s union, Unite, included the votes of 1,000 crew members who were no longer working for BA.
Those crew members had taken voluntary redundancy offered by British Airways in their previous round of cost-cutting measures. BA had argued that this was in breach of industrial relations law.
The strike had been due to start on 22 December, running for twelve days until 2 January, with cabin crew staging the walkout in protest at new pay freezes and staff cutbacks.
Unite said that although there were mistakes during the ballot they did not have a significant effect on the vote’s outcome. Of nearly 13,000 members polled, a ratio of nine to one, actually 92 per cent, declared that they were in support of the strike. There was an 80 per cent turnout to vote of the union’s 12,500 BA members.
Unite leaders Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley reacted angrily to the ruling, saying that there would be a fresh ballot and that the dispute was not yet settled.
‘It is a disgraceful day for democracy when a court can overrule such an overwhelming decision by employees taken in a secret ballot.
‘Passing the buck to the courts to do management’s job for them was never going to be the answer.’
A million passengers would have been affected by the action. Here in Cayman many families awaiting the return of loved ones from the UK had been left in limbo by the possible cancellation of flights.
A British Airways statement indicated that the airline was happy that the imminent threat had been lifted and that the strike had been needless.
‘It has also become very clear that our customers do not believe that old-style trade union militancy is relevant to our efforts to move British Airways back toward profitability.
‘Financial success is essential to build the kind of business our customers want and provide long-term opportunities for our staff,’ read the statement.
The global airline business is expecting a net loss of US$5.6 billion during 2009.