BA sack BASSA branch secretary – Unite condemns bullying and intimidation

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The Unite union yesterday condemned the sacking by British Airways of a senior Unite official, BASSA branch secretary Duncan Holley, as ‘another act of bullying and intimidation’.

The sacking took place on the last day of the union’s ballot on BA’s latest ‘offer’.

The Union is recommending rejection and cabin crew reps have been calling for more strike action if and when the offer is rejected.

A Unite spokesperson told News Line: ‘The company’s vindictive operation of the disciplinary procedure seems designed to hinder any peaceful resolution of this dispute.

‘Duncan is the fifth to be dismissed. As far as we are concerned, it’s another act of bullying and intimidation.’

Holley said he was fired with immediate effect because he took time off work before Christmas to carry out his union duties.

Holley, who has been representing cabin crew as their branch secretary for 12 years, described his dismissal as ‘politically motivated’.

BA claimed he was dismissed for misconduct but would not comment further on the sacking yesterday.

Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley – commenting on disciplinary procedures in his April 30 letter to members calling for rejection – said: ‘As you know over fifty colleagues have been suspended by management on charges arising from the dispute.

‘Four, at time of writing, have been dismissed.

‘It would not be right to refer to individual cases here.

‘However, the charges in the great majority of cases are entirely trivial and barely worthy of a slap on the wrist, let alone the sack.’

Woodley added: ‘This evidence of victimisation and draconian punishments – in some cases directed against your representatives – renders worthless the words in the offer designed to rule out such behaviour.

‘Only rejection of the offer can say to management that it will be judged by deeds as well as words, and can express proper support for colleagues in the disciplinary firing line.’

Unite has indicated support for a sustained strike by BA cabin crew if they reject the airline’s latest ‘offer’ in the ballot which closed last night.

Cabin crew reps who met Unite officials on Wednesday called for a lengthier strike than the seven days of industrial action staged in March.

Unite officials said they supported the proposed strategy but final approval rests with the joint general secretaries, Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson.

In his call for rejection of the BA offer, Woodley also cited the airline’s refusal to commit to fully reinstating travel allowances that were stripped from all strikers during the first wave of walkouts.

He accused BA boss Walsh of ‘fanning the flames of conflict at the very moment when peace would otherwise have been at hand.

‘At worst, it is a clear statement of intent – that the company wishes to break trade unionism among its cabin crew, not by a formal act of derecognition (unattainable under present legislation because of our collective strength and organisation), but by a process of bullying, humiliation and piece-meal victimisation until you are left with no effective protection or the smallest measure of control over your working environment.’

Unite is preparing to announce the poll result today but may delay the announcement of strike dates until next week.

The union must give BA seven days’ notice of strike action and if it announces dates on Monday, the soonest it can schedule industrial action is the week beginning May 17.