THE decision by a Judge in chambers to rule the BA strike action illegal is a major blow at the legal right to strike.
It was also a brazen attempt to rescue an employer who was determined to act the dictator and impose new terms and conditions on BA cabin crew.
The judge had to intervene when Walsh found that he had completely misjudged the workforce, whose decision to take strike action for 12 days over Xmas put BA into a no win situation, where it would have to capitulate or be broken up.
In fact, as everybody knows the objections of BA to the strike ballot result were puerile bordering on the ridiculous.
The couple of hundred workers who had agreed redundancy but had received ballot papers made not the slightest difference to the result of the ballot – Ninety per cent of the 82 per cent of the workforce who voted put their cross for strike action!
Walsh was clearly rescued by the judge. Walsh will now demand that the union accepts the imposition of new terms and conditions of service.
The reformist instincts of the Unite leadership will be to reballot. This will see Unite having to re-record its membership base, so that the reballoting can take place.
Walsh will reckon that if this happens he will get away with stepping up the impositions well into the New Year, when he will be in a much better position to fight the union, whose leadership was already beginning to wobble with co-leader Derek Simpson stating that 12 days of strike action was ‘perhaps a bit over the top’.
The decision to have 12 days of strike action was the perfect well judged response to an employer who thought that he could steamroller over all agreements with the union, and sack and cut wages, pensions and manning levels at will.
BA cabin crew will be furious that Walsh’s legal judicial manoeuvre has worked and that their perfectly legal strike has been declared illegal.
They should still take strike action and stop the airport for the 12 days.
In fact the whole of the Unite trade union and all of the TUC trade unions should give these workers their fullest support.
If not, they will be the next victims of legal rulings that will declare that their justified resistance to bosses and even government imposing the most savage cuts is illegal.
All over the country, workers are being sacked, are having their wages cut and their pensions slashed.
Their bosses tell them that since capitalism is in a crisis they will just have to accept it.
The BA cabin crew have taken a magnificent stand against a bullying employer whose managers declared that they were involved in a ‘fight to the death’ with the trade union.
This kind of tactic must be stopped in its tracks at Heathrow.
Unite must continue with the action and it must be supported by the whole of the working class to the extent of an indefinite general strike.
If the Unite leaders are not willing to carry this action through to the end, then why did they call a 12-day strike action over Xmas at all.
The battle is therefore well and truly joined.
The capitalist crisis does not mean that workers have to accept being driven into the abyss by bosses whose system has failed.
Since capitalism does not work it must be got rid of.
Trade union leaders who are not prepared to lead this struggle must be removed and be replaced by those who will lead.
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