The right to withdraw labour, or call a strike in its more pejorative description, is, I believe, a right. The current dispute between the UNITE union and BA has drawn attention to this with commentators weighing in on the rights and wrongs of the actual dispute and the stance of the judiciary in ruling on the legality or otherwise of the ballot. I have views on all of these things but I feel that to focus on these issues about the dispute itself is to actually miss the main point.
Now I don’t want to sound like a class warrior here but what I find most interesting is the fact that BA has sought to simply deny the right of the union to call a strike by combing the procedural aspects of the ballot process for any perceived technical breach. So this is not challenging the subject of the dispute and defending their position what it is is simply wrecking tactics to deny, what I see as, a right.
Of course there will be those that say the rules are there to protect union members (they would say that wouldn’t they) but let us be honest here. Gone are the days of open meetings and “shows of hands” and the extent of coercion and deceit that could occur in those circumstances. No this is another ballot which has shown pretty overwhelming support for a call to withdraw labour. If we were to apply such rigorous standards to our parliamentary elections then I think Gordon Brown would still be in power and we would be looking at a re run off of a flawed and unlawful general election.
No this is, IMHO, a CSR issue. Airlines are often taken to task on their green credentials and too often CSR is reduced to an ecological impact issue. As I have often argued CSR is much much broader than that and organisations need to consider their role, responsibilities and impact as part of society in both the short and longer term.
So, in my book, BA you failed the test. You cannot seek to deny people a fundamental right and claim any Social Responsibility.