Reply To: 83.2% Vote for Industrial Action

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Think Tete de cuvee is flying a kite with his assertion on the support from other groups of workers, particularly as the engineers and pilots have just secured pay deals and ground staff either have or are close to doing so as well. I’d say that given that information, other BA workers have little to fear apart from the thought that another strike by cabin crew, if not nullified by volunteer action, has the potential to impact revenue and hence jobs.

I’d also suggest that the latest ballot result is not really surprising. There were slightly fewer cabin crew balloted this time than in December. That said, the actual numbers voting for strike action are broadly the same, whilst the apathy from the membership seems to grow.

There is a deal of difference between gaining a majority for strike action from those who elected to vote and turning that into tangible action. By all accounts, Unite is intending to call strike dates and then cancel them at the last minute, the intention being to atempt to deter customers from flying BA. This policy is flawed, since to be effective, it has to be a closely guarded secret up till the point that it is put into practice. Signalling such an intent this much in advance could mean that the union is trying a double bluff, or that they really have lost the plot. The gamble for cabin crew is twofold. If they go out on strike there is no knowing what BA’s response might be. The union have successfully indicated that this latest ballot is a continuation of the previous dispute and hence would be unprotected. This leaves any cabin crew who opted to strike open to dismissal. So the cabin crew would be gambling that the union might call off action and save them from the possibility of being sacked.

So whilst Unite might have succeeded in getting 5700 or so members to back strike action, the number who are likely to want to put their necks on the line will, in all probability, be less than that. Once again they will be unable to create a broad base that will stop the airline, That being the case, it has to be argued that it is better not to call strike action than be seen as an ineffectual organisation. Hence the union’s reticence at announcing strike dates.

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