BA wins court battle to stop Christmas strikes

British Airways won a High Court battle on Thursday to prevent cabin crew staging a 12-day walkout that would have ruined the travel plans of up to one million people over Christmas and New Year.

Judge Laura Cox granted an injunction to BA, which successfully argued that trade union Unite's staff ballot was invalid because it included workers that had already accepted voluntary redundancy.

BA cabin crew voted overwhelmingly on Monday to strike over job cuts, conditions and pay between December 22 and January 2 in a mass walkout of around 12,500 staff.

However, Judge Cox ruled Thursday that the balance of convenience lay "firmly" with granting BA an injunction to halt the strike.

"A strike of this kind over the twelve days of Christmas is fundamentally more damaging to BA and the wider public than a strike taking place at almost any other time of the year," Judge Cox said.

The industrial action, billed by media as "The Twelve Days of Christmas Strikes," had threatened the holiday plans of BA passengers seeking to visit family and friends over the busy festive break.

The judge also refused Britain's biggest union Unite permission to appeal but added that it could apply to the separate Court of Appeal.

Loss-making British Airways, which is slashing costs in an attempt to return to profitability, reacted with delight to its high-profile victory.

"We are delighted for our customers that the threat of a Christmas strike has been lifted by the court," BA said in a statement.

"It is a decision that will be welcomed by hundreds of thousands of families in the UK and around the world.

"There was never any need for a strike and we hope that Unite will take this opportunity to reflect before deciding its next steps. We believe the public would want that too."

Unite was protesting at BA's imposed contractual changes that include fewer cabin crew on flights, a pay freeze and different working conditions for new members of staff.

The union expressed deep disappointment at the ruling and warned that there would "inevitably" be another ballot for more action if the company did not resolve the row through negotiation.

"While we have never wanted this dispute, it is a disgraceful day for democracy when a court can overrule such an overwhelming decision by employees taken in a secret ballot," said Unite joint general secretaries, Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, in a statement.

Aviation analysts estimated that the strike could have cost BA between 10 and 30 million pounds (11-33 million euros, 16-49 million dollars) per day.

"We will of course be studying the judgment but the fact remains that this dispute is not settled. Passing the buck to the courts to do management's job for them was never going to be the answer," Simpson and Woodley said.

"BA must accept that there can be no resolution except through negotiation, failing which there will inevitably be a further ballot for industrial action."

Earlier Thursday, BA executives and union bosses had held unsuccessful last-ditch talks in a separate bid to stop the strike.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown had urged both sides on Wednesday to resolve the dispute, saying he was "very worried" about the strike.

The strike threat came at a critical point for BA, which is cutting costs and attempting to merge with Spanish carrier Iberia as part of a bid to remain competitive against its rivals.

BA revealed last month that net losses quadrupled to 217 million pounds in the group's first half, or six months to September.

The airline has announced it will cut an extra 1,200 jobs - taking the total planned reduction to 4,900 by 2010.

"In recent days, we believe Unite has formed a better understanding of our position and of the ways in which we could move forward," BA said in the statement issued after the court ruling.

"It has also become very clear that our customers do not believe that old-style trade union militancy is relevant to our efforts to move British Airways back toward profitability."

rfj/bmm

 

 

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
news
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick