The four five-day strikes by British Airways cabin crew were yesterday declared illegal by the High Court.
The first set of strikes was due to commence at midnight last night.
BA had moved to get the action called off on purely pedantic grounds, centring on an allegation that in no way affected the outcome of the ballot.
This was that the results of the ballot had not been communicated to the cabin crew in the way that the letter of the law is alleged to have required.
Unite held seven days of strike action in March during and after which dozens of staff have been suspended and some dismissed.
Tony Woodley, Unite joint general secretary, yesterday described the BA management as ‘vindictive’.
The union recommended rejection of the BA deal because BA had not restored travel concessions taken away from those who went on strike in March, and because BA was unwilling to lift the suspensions and reinstate those who had been dismissed.
Unite said there was a turnout of 71% of the cabin crew for the latest ballot and that 81% voted against BA’s offer.
Unite leader Woodley said BA chief executive Willie Walsh was pursuing ‘vindictive’ action against those who went on strike through suspension, dismissal and by taking away the travel concessions.
He said: ‘This is not about restructuring any more – it is about taking out activists at the expense of the travelling public. Settling this dispute now would not cost BA a single penny.’
The new Tory Transport Minister Philip Hammond attended talks yesterday with the Unite union and BA management.
However, Tory Minister Hammond attacked the cabin crew before he met with the union, saying that they were just like the 1960s dockers.
Hammond said: ‘Either you work together with the employer to work on in a viable business, or you do what the London dockers did in the 1960s and refuse to countenance any change.
‘How many London dockers are there now?’
This was taken as a threat that the government would support mass sackings of cabin crew.
He further warned: ‘BA needs to develop a business model which allows it to compete with lower cost airlines that do not have BA’s legacy costs.’
The illegal judgement makes it very clear that the only way that workers can defend their rights is through organising a general strike to smash the anti-union laws, bring down the Tory coalition regime and bring in a workers government.