Just been watching Newsnight’s take on the High Court’s decision to injunct Unite from sending BA cabin crew on strike. There was a bit of discussion about whether this had anything to do with the Unite general secrtary election but it was all speculation.
What’s a bare fact though is the following: the High Court granted the injunction on the basis that the ballot included workers who were leaving the company.
Frnkly I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before. Unite has long-standing difficulties in keeping track of its membership. Last year its annual return to the trade union certification officer showed that over 300,000 names had been wiped – much more than redundancies would allow for. Some of those names had undoubtedly left the union, died or both. Addresse don’t always get changed and email addresses are in short supply – less than a quarter of the membership have valid email details on record.
So keeping track of who’s in the bargaining pool and who isn’t is by no means an easy task, and BA spotted an opportunity. None of this can deny, of course, the overwhelming mandate for strike action delivered by the 92 per ceent strike vote. But time and again, when strike plans fail, they fail on a technicality. It’s no indictment of Unite’s industrial relations policy to say that better record keeping would have prevented this.