BA Union Wins Appeal Over Strike Ruling

May 20, 2010

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The British Airways cabin crew union, Unite, won an appeal on Thursday against a High Court ruling this week that had blocked a new wave of walkouts by the airline's staff.

The union said it would not strike before Monday, and that it was seeking a settlement with BA, which is in a dispute with its cabin crew over pay as the airline tries to cut costs.

"Despite the obvious enthusiasm of colleagues here, this is not a moment for being triumphant. We shouldn't have been in this process. The case brought by BA was trivial," Unite's Derek Simpson said outside the court after the ruling.

Two out of three of Britain's senior judges ruled in favour of Unite in a knife-edge decision.

BA said in a statement it was "very disappointed", adding that it would implement a contingency plan to keep planes flying. It intends to fly more than 70 percent of the customers booked.

Originally the union had planned to stage strikes from May 18-22 , May 24-28 , May 30-June 3, and June 5-9.

The dispute with cabin crew over pay and conditions had already resulted in seven days of strikes in March, which cost the airline GBP£45 million pounds (USD$64.56 million).

BA on Monday won a court injunction to stop a threatened five-day strike by cabin crew members, the first of four such planned disruptions.

Incensed by the ruling Unite immediately challenged the decision, calling it a "disgrace" and an affront to democracy.

BA's lawyers had previously successfully argued that Unite had breached the 1992 labour law which stipulates that unions must communicate a full breakdown of votes cast, including figures on spoiled ballot papers.

The judge ruled against the union on the grounds that it had failed to provide all the necessary information in an easily accessible place.

Unite had also neglected to tell a small number of its 11,000 members there had been 11 spoilt ballot papers in an overwhelming vote to authorise the strikes.

Earlier this week Unite said it had reached agreement in principle with BA over its plans to save GBP£62.5 million (USD$90 million) a year to counter falling demand, volatile fuel prices and greater competition.

However, Unite said the restoration of staff travel perks had not been agreed and this row was holding up settlement of the wider dispute.

(Reuters)