The Spanish airport workers strike is going to adversely affect Iberia. It will also impact the LoCos who rely on the bucket and spade brigade for the Easter turnover, so expect to see the likes of Easyjet and Ryanair getting very hot under the collar.
The recent ruling in the courts about the margins of error in ballots for strike action will not substantially affect the current cabin crew ballot as one assumes that this time around, Unite have done their homework and sorted out the membership records such that there could not be any challenge on the number of ballot papers issued. Of course, if it were possible to establish that some members had recieved multiple papers, that might be a somewhat different matter.
I doubt that BA are that concerned about the ballot result. It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that the majority of those voting will support industrial action. The determining factor will be just how many they number and of that figure, how many will actually take up any call for industrial action. I would suggest that given the last ballot, the actual number of supporters will be less than 5,000.
Of course, Unite still have to dig themselves out of the mess caused by linking this ballot to previous disputes. They have been talking a lot about wierd and wondrous industrial action of late, so I suspect that means they know that striking is not on the cards. Far more worrying to the union is the threat of being sued for BA’s losses last year – I believe that a case is due to come to court very soon on this. Not only that, the union knows that any industrial action by BA staff that is not immediately repudiated by the union, leaves the union open to being sued because of the unprotected nature of such action.
Finally, according to Unite a substantial proportion of the branch executive have been sacked by BA. It will be interesting to see how the union squares allowing people who are no longer employed by the company to continue to influence the direction this dispute takes. It will also be interesting to see how the membership react.
Much has been said about the damage to BA as a consequence of this dispute dragging on, but little has been made of the huge effect on Unite. Aside from the loss of members, it has shown the union to be pretty ineffectual in dealing with a large employer. The cockups by Unite in negotiations, sorting out ballots and then turning substantial votes in favour of strike action into real stoppages have a comic quality of their own. The union really does look ridiculous. This dent to their credibility will affect the way that other companies deal with them, as well as making workers question whether shelling out union dues is money well spent. BA, by contrast, seem to have a pretty slick setup that has been able to mobilise support from the workforce to substantially reduce the possible impact of strike action. In the PR battle Unite have been on the back foot from the outset.