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Why British Airways and Unite May Both Be Deliberately Prolonging the Dispute

Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43

The British Airways/Unite dispute rumbles on with Unite seeking a new ballot which will start on 22nd January.

At this point, it is the trade union on the defensive with its failed attempt to strike over the Christmas period and the fact that it is looking just plain stupid and greedy in the current economic environment.

When I mediate any dispute one of the elements which can be present is the inherent need of one or both of the parties for the dispute to continue.


For British Airways one of the compellling reasons for the dispute to continue is the fact that it takes attention away from the fact that the airline is losing money and it may be poorly run. The BA Management may be more effective in dispute resolution management than in making money from flying aeroplanes.

The decision by Unite to try to strike for 12 days over Christmas helped the PR of the British Airways management. 

For the Union, according to the Times,  internal politics at the union Unite have played a significant part in the latest industrial dispute to suuround British Airways.

Len McCluskey, an assistant general secretary at Unite, is one of the leading contenders to become the union’s first sole general secretary when the two joint holders of the post, Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, step down in a year’s time.

Mr Simpson and Mr Woodley were respectively leaders of Amicus and the Transport & General Workers Union — the unions that merged to create Unite — and both sections will be putting up candidates in the election.

As the Times observed prior to Christmas, "Victory against British Airways would hugely strengthen Mr. McCluskey credentials. Many in Unite fondly recall how, in 1997, the position of the BA chief executive Bob Ayling was undermined by his failure to tame the unions, and would love a repeat performance."

As a consequence, when you read  how British Airways and Unite really want to settle this case, do not necessarily believe it. 

Justin Patten, Solicitor