Friday 10 September 2010

Unite to consult across BA membership on union-busting

It's good to see the latest UNITE press release on the BA dispute, which talks about getting together reps from across the membership in BA. Many of us have felt for a long time that Willie Walsh was conducting the dispute as if it was all-out warfare, while the union was only deploying a fraction of its power to defend members.

The press release is in line with the comments made at UNITE's July Executive Council meeting, but from the outside little appears to have happened since to turn the comments into reality.

UNITE is a huge union, and when a group of members are under the cosh from their employer it's important they feel like they've got a million+ others behind them. This feeling doesn't come from rhetoric, but from practical organising, solidarity and support - from messages of support and workplace collections which we can all do, through to widening the action which members beyond BA Cabin Crew need to seriously consider.

Is it a coincidence that this press release has appeared just three days after UNITE General Secretary candidate Jerry Hicks went public calling for a similar approach to the BA dispute?

Whether electoral pressure has contributed to this development or not, it should be welcomed by everyone who doesn't want to see the members and their union smashed at BA.


Anonymous said...

It is a coincidence Tony Woodley making this anouncement just like Jerry Hicks suddenly discovering organising on the 23rd of July, as posted on his blog. I am sure he wasnt taking a break from slagging off Len!!

Ian said...

I'd like to see an election where the candidates (and their supporters) don't spend their time "slagging off" each other, but debating what's the best way forward for UNITE's members.

Jerry's contributions to the debates on organising and on the BA dispute have some content - how about addressing that - do you agree? Disagree?

Whatever your views, these are serious debates that actually matter for the future of our union. Let's focus on those.

Anonymous said...

Jerrys contribution to the organising debate is a rehash of the debate that has been going on in the old TGWU for years. Its not new and the late delivery by him in this debate suggestshe didnt see it as entirely relevant in his campaign.

To answer your question do I agree or disagree? Of course I agree burt Len has been saying it and supporting it for years.

I am all for debate. In my view two competing left candidates isnt a debate. Its a split and harms the left. I get pissed off with the left splitting. It assists our enemies.

Ian said...

The debate on organising has been going on in the movement, not just the TGWU, for years. But the point about a debate is that it happens because everyone DOESN'T agree.

Even amongst those of us who strongly support organising there are serious debates about how to do it most effectively, how to choose the targets that use our resources most effectively, how to involve lay members and the democratic structures of the union without allowing individuals and sections who oppose organising to prevent progress etc etc.

I think readers will probably have worked out that you don't support Jerry. Fine. But one of the potential benefits to members of an election is that it opens up space to debate what sort of union we want in the future.

You say "of course I agree". I don't think this is "of course". Maybe I've missed it, but I don't think all the practical points Jerry is making have been made by other candidates. For example, I'm not aware of others having suggested giving resources to Area and Sector committees? If other candidates do support that, I'd be delighted - the more people who agree the better - it's not a bad thing!

Anonymous said...

Jerry Hicks stood for GS in 2009 on servicing agenda ticket.

Once again in 2010 it is clear that Hicks has learned very little.

He contiunues to push the servicing model which is a tired reactionary managing decline agenda that is still being played out in the ex -amicus section of

The Hicks camp has been continually criticised for following this discredited model and for being out of touch.

So one organising article which someone else wrote on Hicks' behalf is produced and cobbled together from the organising model that has been used and delivered on in the ex_T&G section of Unite for years.

One ghosted article an organiser does not make and it smacks of electioneering.

It is clear that with Len McCluskey progressive organising agenda getting around 700 branch nominations he and his supporters are winning the debate and branches are buying into the vision.

It is interesting that the other candidates who are all pushing the servicing agenda could only get just above 50 nominations or into the low 100's. Even if you add all the other candidates nominations together Len has got more than double their amount.

Ripping off and copying at such a late stage is not adding to the debate but looks like desperation.

As for the BA dispute Hicks constant public attacks are unhelpful and shows once again how out of touch he is.

His outbursts have backfired and the 12,500 + BASSA branch have nominated Len McCluskey and are actively campaigning to get the vote out for him.

Finally due to many of his policies and witnessing many of his action Hicks is not of the left.

Hicks is a sectarian splitter pursuing a negative divisive campaign and putting forward a reactionary model and reactionary policies.

Ian said...

I don't want my blog to turn into one dominated by a few people making negative comments about other people. I want it to focus on useful information and genuine debate.

I've published your last comment, but don't intend to continue this anonymous public dialogue.

By all means drop me a line if you want to continue the discussion.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

BASSA is a union living in the past and needs to be reformed. Unite is a good union and no one has an issue with them.

I cant see other BA employees supporting the Cabin crew and giving up their salary/staff travel, in BA there is a feeling of anger against a minority of BASSA militants who need to get into the 21st century, another strike might even mean and end to their paydays from BA?

Ian said...

Firstly, BASSA is part of UNITE.

Secondly, members have voted repeatedly to reject "offers" from BA and for action, including most recently in a ballot where the union made no recommendation. The pretence that this is just a few militants just won't do. Having met hundreds of the members I know this is utter nonsense.

Thirdly, you are missing the point - that it is the employer that is driving the dispute, not the union.

I don't know whether ultimately our other members at BA will fall for Daily-Mail-esque nonsense as you have, stand by while cabin crew get hammered, then get hammered themselves. Or whether they will stand alongside our cabin crew members to ensure that Walsh doesn't get away with his union-busting, bullying and victimisation, protecting their own organisation and their own futures. I do know which side of that argument is right, and which side UNITE should be pushing for. It's a positive step that the union is (at last!) doing the basics to argue for this.

Anonymous said...

Small point to recognise.
BASSA almost missed the boat with regard to registering their vote for GS. They called the meeting to decide which way to cast their vote for the Friday prior to voting closing. The announcement was made on preceeding Tuesday - so two days notice for an important meeting. Is this union democracy in action ? Oh and the number of members quoted for BASSA is debatable. At the last count the BA branch had just over 9000 members. I doubt that the Thompson Air branch has ofer 3500 in its fold.

BASSA have only put one of management's offers to members and that was the one made in June this year. BASSA failed to give members the opportunity to vote on previous, significantly better offers, which included uplifts in pay, additional perks etc. One does have to question why ?

Of the candidates standing for GS, Jerry Hicks comes across as credible. Len McCluskey seems to wish to pursue the 70's style agenda. The sad part is that the McCluskey bandwagon seems to have major sway with the other three candidates splitting the remaining votes between them. A lot of the voting appears to be down TGWU/Amicus lines. There is no single candidate who seems to be able to unite the union.

Ian said...

that doesn't make a lot of sense to me - voting in the GS election hasn't even started yet, let alone closed. Don't understand some of your other points either?

I agree with your concern about the "tribal" behaviour in parts of UNITE. I don't believe there are significant differences between the concerns and priorities of members in different parts of our union (or in any other union). We're all facing a massive onslaught from the Con-Dems and employers, trying to make us pay for a crisis created by the rich and powerful. Playing up our historical divisions doesn't help. At least with political disagreements you can argue, change your mind or compromise and move on. With false divisions rooted in the (real or imagined) past, there's no way to move on and build unity.

Time to move on as UNITE!