Tuesday, 18 May 2010


UNITE says this about McCombe J's very reasonable judgment:

"This judgment is an absolute disgrace and will rank alongside the Taff Vale judgment as a landmark attack on free trade unionism and the right to take industrial action.  Its implication is that it is now all-but impossible to take legally-protected strike action against any employer who wishes to seek an injunction on even the most trivial grounds.

"Because of the far-reaching consequences of this injunction for all trade unions and indeed for our democracy, we are seeking leave to appeal immediately.  It need hardly be said that this brings the prospect of a settlement to the dispute with British Airways not one day closer.

"However, we will of course comply with the injunction, and will be immediately telling our cabin crew members, who have three times voted against the company's conduct by overwhelming majorities, to work normally and not take or threaten any industrial action."

Get a grip - His Lordship has decided that BA had a good arguable case that Unite has failed to comply with section 231 Trade Unions and Labour Relations Act 1992 and has therefore quite properly granted an interim injunction pending a trial of whether or not Unite has breached section 231.  That is not a disgrace; that is Unite not being able to show the judge on an interim hearing cogent and comprehensive evidence of full compliance with section 231; otherwise he would have held BA did not have a good arguable case and would not have made the injunction.   What might be a disgrace is referring to a High Court Judgment in such ludicrous terms and being a very large and well resourced trade union which cannot demonstrate total compliance with a simple piece of legislation.  Grow Up.  

UPDATE-  The judgment is now available - 

49.     In the end I consider the arguments as to whether the statute has been complied with give rise to properly arguable issues for trial.  The matter is not so clear as Mr Hendy would in my view have it.  I certainly cannot hold that the union's likelihood of success is overwhelming.  I have regard to my assessment of the likelihood of success at trial, and at present I am inclined to think that the union may well have failed to put in place an adequately analysed system calculated to ensure that all reasonable steps were taken to communicate with relevant members as soon as reasonably practicable the relevant items of statutory information.  The point to my mind is an arguable one. 
50.     Once one reaches that conclusion it is in my judgment inevitable that the balance of convenience comes down in favour the airline.  I have sympathy indeed with the union and its members who voted in the matter in the proportions which I have indicated.  However, to be entitled to protection from the consequences of otherwise unlawful conduct, it is necessary to demonstrate that the conditions of that statutory protection are satisfied.  The conditions of such protection have consequences for employer and employee alike, and I am unable to say on the present material that it is sufficiently clear that the union took the steps required by law at the time at which they were required so as to outweigh the other factors.  The balance of convenience in my judgment therefore requires the grant of the injunction sought by the airline.  

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