Unite is trying to pass the buck for its failings

Unite’s joint general secretary, Tony Woodley, is going to great lengths to create a smokescreen around his union’s failings in the communication of the strike ballot of British Airways cabin crew.  Unite believes the court’s decision to block the British Airways strike on a technicality is ‘an absolute disgrace’ and is appealing the ruling. But Unite only has itself to blame and Tony Woodley’s whinging in the media shouldn’t cut any ice with anyone.

Describing Unite’s error as a technicality is an attempt to downplay the union’s lack of attention to observing the legal requirements after the ballot.  The fact is the union failed to follow the requirements about communication of the result to the letter of the law.  Woodley is complaining that only 11 ballot papers had been spoilt.  But that is immaterial.  Unite’s legal obligations were clear and it failed to observe them.  That is why it is fatuous of Woodley to say the Court’s decision:

‘brings into question whether we have the right to strike in this country, which is a fundamental human right’

Utter nonsense.  What the Court’s decision does it old the unions to observing the requirements of the ballot process.  It doesn’t prevent people who feel their employer is behaving unreasonably from withdrawing their labour in a lawful manner.  If Unite had followed the process correctly, the British Airways strike by cabin crew would be happening today, legally.

Unite is also trying to play the underdog card in trying to excuse its error, describing itself as a mere voluntary organisation.  Yet this is a trade union that has the resources to plough millions of pounds into Labour Party coffers each year, fund lavish salary and benefits packages for its top tier of officials and employ lawyers to look after the interests of the union and its members.  If this is an underdog it is the size of a mastiff and has the ferocity of a rabid rottweiler.

The Court of Appeal should throw out Unite’s appeal on this matter and make them ballot its members again, observing all the legal requirements of such a course of action.  If Unite does its job properly, they will give no reason to British Airways to go to Court again to seek an injunction.  In the meantime, Woodley and his comrades should put an end to their hysterical overreaction and make they fulfil their responsibilities correctly.

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