Saturday, 15 May 2010

If the courts block another strike, workers must retaliate

The overt bias in the media is to be expected. If the BA cabin crew weren't accused of "insular thinking," "cynicism," and much more besides by the bosses and their media servants, then it would have been an unusual turn of events. You simply can't have a fair and balanced media when the workers refuse to know their place, can you?

What is cause for worry is the latest development reported by BBC News;
British Airways is planning to take legal action to stop the latest strike by its cabin crew, the company said. 

The action comes despite recent pressure for talks from both the conciliation service Acas and the pilots' union, Balpa. 

BA will seek an injunction in the High Court on Monday, just 24 hours before the first of four five-day walkouts is due to be held. 

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said he was surprised by the move. 

BBC business correspondent Joe Lynam, who spoke to Mr Hammond, said the transport secretary was perplexed by the letter, given that he is set to meet both sides in this dispute on Monday morning anyway. 

He said he had not been informed of BA's intention to go to the courts. 

Earlier on Friday, Acas made a public offer to both sides to hold talks, a move that appeared to meet with approval from the two. 

Both BA and the Unite union responded by saying they were prepared to hold talks. 

BA explained its move to the courts, saying: "The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 requires unions to send everyone eligible to vote details of the exact breakdown of the ballot result." 

It went on: "We do not believe Unite properly complied with this requirement. We wrote to the general secretaries of the union yesterday [Thursday], asking them to explain to us how they discharged this obligation and, based on Unite's replies, we believe that they failed to comply with the legal requirement." 

A Unite spokesman said: "We will be vigorously defending our ballot and members against this move by BA. We have already responded to the company, and notified them that we have fully complied with the law."

The spokesman added that the answer lay with talks: "The only way to settle this long-running dispute is through negotiation. A solution is not to be found in the courtroom."
I have mentioned more than once that the previous BA injunction and the more recent RMT injunction set a dangerous precedent. Especially now that we have a government without any pretence of affinity with the labour movement, this will be put into effect to cut the legs from under the organised working class.

If they can go beyond Thatcher's anti-strike laws and actually prevent strike action altogether, then they can roll back every last right that workers have fought tooth-and-nail for over the last two centuries. Quite clearly, we cannot allow this to happen.

If this goes to the High Court, and a strike is blocked once again, then we must do more than simply bitch and moan about the injustice. We must take action. The greatest weapon that the working class have is solidarity, and it is long past time that we stuck to fingers up to the legacy of Thatcher and Tebbit and started using it again. If the bosses and the courts know that they face no consequences for pissing on workers' rights, then they will only become more keen to do so. If we want to stop them, we have to make them fear the consequences.

It may be too much to hope for a mass blockade of the High Court and of key airports around the country. Class consciousness in Britain is stifled, and too many people believe the bullshit they are being fed by those taking money from their pockets. But, if nothing else, we can set something in motion.

Even if it is not a blockade but a more standard protest, the working class need to make our presence felt. We need to let those at the top know that we will not roll over quietly as we are attacked to presever profit and privilege. This is class war, and we must fight back.