Reports indicate that Unite will keep away from disrupting the royal wedding in the event that strike is approved by the new industrial action ballot that will take place later in the month.
Unite, the trade union representing the British Airways cabin crew is likely to rule out industrial action during the royal wedding if the new strike ballot mandate is in the favour of an action against the airline.
Earlier, the general secretary of UK’s largest union, Len McCluskey declined to discount the wedding from the potential strike dates. However it is now understood that Unite does not want to create any hassles during the major public event.
The dispute between the UK’s flag carrier and its crew has been going on for more than a year now, during which British Airways is estimated to have lost some £150 million in more than 20 days of strike apart from causing great deal of trouble to travellers and creating commotion at various airports.
Unite is on the brink of announcing its fourth BA cabin crew strike in nearly 16 months. A strike ballot that took place recently indicated that thousands of the airline’s staff members are unwavering as far as pushing forward the dispute with British Airways is concerned. The ballot, however, was scrapped following a legal challenge by the airline over the validity of the union ballot.
McCluskey, in an interview to the BBC this month, denoted that Unite members might be a bit reluctant to strike during the royal wedding. “It is a bank holiday. I doubt whether many of our members will want to take strike action,” McCluskey was quoted. “But, if they do, then it is because they have reached a particular point in their positions at work where they feel they have got no alternative.” When asked if he would lend support to the strike action on the royal wedding weekend, he replied: “Absolutely”.
However, it is implicit that McCluskey is not likely to approve industrial action during the wedding weekend. Unite is currently preparing to organise the new strike ballot before the end of this month which provides it with a likely closing date at the beginning of April, which in turn exposes the grand royal event to the potential strike if there rolls out a yes vote to the action ballot.
Unite has not ruled out industrial action during Easter, which falls on the weekend before the wedding and is an ideal time for anyone who plans to have refreshing holidays. In fact, many have even booked flight tickets on the airline in order to avoid spiralling ticket costs later as cheap tickets on flights might not be available in plenty during the peak holiday travel period.
British Airways’ lawyers are expected to carefully scrutinise the Unite’s mandate if it is in the favour of a strike action. The union had to declare its last ballot invalid after the airline announced that members who took part in an ‘illegal’ strike would be exposed to dismissal.
It is also considered highly unlikely that the union members will engage in traditional walkouts if they have another mandate supporting strike action. The airline’s plans of recruiting a back-up workforce, and its promise to run 100% of all long-haul flights, has compelled the union into a strategy volte-face and now conventional walkouts are perhaps not likely.
A BA spokesman urged Unite to consider the peace deal that was shaped out last year but was rejected by the union’s branches. “There have been enough ballots. It is time for Unite to return to the deal we negotiated, which leaves our existing Heathrow crew the best rewarded in the UK industry, and to put this dispute behind us,” BA’s spokesman was quoted by different online sources as stating.