BA strikes banned again - defend the right to strike! Pass this motion!

Submitted by Matthew on 14 May, 2010 - 6:34

UPDATE

British Airways bosses have once again successfully mobilised the courts against strikers, winning an injunction that bans the action on the basis of a technicality with the balloting process. The judge said that the "balance of convenience" compelled him to ban the strike. More on the BBC website here. Perhaps more shockingly, this ruling now places retrospective illegality on the March strikes meaning that - in theory - Unite could be liable for any costs (which ran into tens, if not hundreds, of millions) and any worker who participated in the strike could - in theory - be dismissed. If BA chooses to act on these theoretical possibilities it would represent one of the most aggressive single offensives in the class war by the bosses since the miners' strike of 1984/5.

The planned critical mass bike ride in solidarity with the BA workers organised by Workers' Climate Action will still go ahead, as a protest in defence of the right to strike. Details here.

The labour movement needs to stop sleepwalking and mobilise a serious fight against the anti-union laws. Below the article from Solidarity are model motions to adapt and use - please pass them through your union branch or other labour movement organisation.

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From Solidarity 3/173 13 May 2010

Following two rounds of industrial action in March, British Airways cabin crew workers have rejected a deal offered by BA management and announced a further 20 days of strikes. An activist from BASSA, the section of Unite that represents BA workers, spoke to Solidarity.

The deal that BA management offered us was bad; it contained a degree of protection for existing members’ terms and conditions but it was still entirely based on the introduction of New Fleet and the move to a two-tier workforce.

But if there’s one main reason for the rejection it was the bosses’ refusal to reinstate staff travel allowance.

People don’t understand how important this is for BA workers. It’s not just about getting free holidays; workers need it to come to work. One worker, who’s based in Ireland, is having to pay £300 per go to get to work. She had her roster changed twice because of the ash cloud, and couldn't get a refund on the tickets she’d booked so she had to pay again. She couldn’t even get to work to make that money back. People are literally having to pay to not work! There are hundreds of people in that position.

Management has not made any concessions or taken any account of the way it behaved during the last round of strikes. People are still being victimised and some, including people who’ve got exemplary records, are being sacked. One workers was suspended on a bullying charge because she asked a member of groundstaff whether they planned to fly as volunteer cabin crew. Then, on their way back to Terminal 5, they ended up behind a manager in traffic and that manager has added the claim that the worker was “following him” to the case!

That kind of victimisation culture is making everybody afraid. Willie Walsh is conducting utterly hysterical scaremongering and telling people the strike is illegal. There’s a constant barrage of anti-strike and anti-union propaganda from management.

BASSA is taking a lead in reassuring people that the strike is legal and trying to maintain people’s confidence. Some workers now feel like they have nothing to lose, but other people are very much feeling the financial pinch.

Our view is that we’ve now offered a deal that BA could accept and Walsh is still intransigent. In an ideal world we’d like to oppose BA’s plans, including New Fleet, outright but there are some doubts over how long we can hold out for.

The tide is beginning to turn, though; people are now realising that this is about Willie Walsh’s ego and not the future of British Airways. It’s clear that this dispute is hurting the company — combined with the effects of the ash cloud, bookings and general income have taken a huge hit. If we can continue to put that kind of pressure on management where it hurts them the most, we can force concessions.

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Model motion: FREE OUR UNIONS!

This union believes

1. The use of the courts to block strikes by Network Rail workers and now, twice, British Airways workers.

This union further believes

1. That court injunctions are now becoming the bosses' default response to any big strike.
2. That the Tory anti-union laws kept by New Labour mean that trade unionism is only semi-legal in Britain - and that judges can overturn an overwhelming vote by many thousands of workers to strike, while the bosses continue to push through sackings, wage reductions and cuts in services without consulting anyone.
3. That we may now face new anti-union laws from the Lib Dem-Tory government.

This union resolves

1. To campaign for the repeal of the anti-union laws and for positive legal rights: to strike, picket, take solidarity action.
2. To affiliate to the United Campaign for Repeal of the Anti-Trade Union Laws.
3. To send this motion to the national executive, and request that they i) raise this at Labour Party conference by submitting a motion for repeal of the anti-union laws; ii) raise this issue at TUC Congress by proposing a cross-union campaign, including industrial action, to abolish the anti-union laws.

[Obviously adapt as necessary for non-Labour affiliated unions.]

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Model motion: FREE OUR UNIONS!
(Version for Unison branches)

This union believes

1. The use of the courts to block strikes by Network Rail workers and now, twice, British Airways workers.

This union further believes

1. That court injunctions are now becoming the bosses' default response to any big strike.
2. That the Tory anti-union laws kept by New Labour mean that trade unionism is only semi-legal in Britain - and that judges can overturn an overwhelming vote by many thousands of workers to strike, while the bosses continue to push through sackings, wage reductions and cuts in services without consulting anyone.
3. That we may now face new anti-union laws from the Lib Dem-Tory government.

This union resolves

1. To campaign for the repeal of the anti-union laws and for positive legal rights: to strike, picket, take solidarity action.
2. To affiliate to the United Campaign for Repeal of the Anti-Trade Union Laws.
3. To send this motion to the national executive, and request that they raise this issue at TUC Congress by proposing a cross-union campaign, including industrial action, to abolish the anti-union laws.
4. To mandate the Labour Link officer to: propose to our next APF meeting that the union nationally should seek to raise this issue at Labour Party conference by submitting a motion for repeal of the anti-union laws; and attempt to promote this policy through the APF structure.

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