Misguided Academics Bolster Unite Militants

ESHER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02:  British Airways...
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Today’s letter in the Guardian from 95 experts in industrial relations is misguided at best. They are reported as crediting BA’s Chief Exec Willy Walsh with union-breaking tactics and state that “victory” for the company would mean a “unilateral management prerogative” which would ride roughshod over workers’ rights. Probably true but these academics do need to get out more.

The up-front reason for the strike as suggested by Unite is because BA were attempting to bring in working practices at Heathrow without consultation. Yet these same working practices are already in operation – with union agreement – at Gatwick. BA is making a loss and had the highest cabin cost base of any airline in the world (average wage £30,000 per annum versus non-BA average of £15,000). Far from the reverse, this strike is an attempt by the union to break the management. It makes far less sense than, say, the potential dispute from the Rail Union RMT and militant bruvva, Bob Crow – who at least can point to safety as his pretext.

So British Airways will fall under industrial action again today and it is not clear precisely what Unite expects to achieve on behalf of its members. The union leadership will no doubt feel justified by the letter to the Guardian, however absurd its assertions. Having felt a twinge of nostalgia for old union leaders and Communist Party of Great Britain comrades like Mick McGahey (NUM) and Hugh Scanlon (AEU) – the architects of some of the big strikes of the 70s and 80s – it seems the principles of militancy and self-promotion they upheld are alive and well in the union leadership of today. Step forward Tony Woodley of Unite (2009 salary, pension and expenses £122K+) and Bob Crow of the RMT (£120K). Heroes of the working class indeed. Woodley’s Unite chum, Derek Simpson takes the brass-neck award: According to an article in the Times last year, he received nearly £200,000 in pay and benefits, with his pay package increased 17 percent in 2010. He also has the right to stay in his £800,000 house in Hertfordshire until he dies. Check out the pay of the rich and shameless here.

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