LONDON // Britain's High Court has granted British Airways an emergency injunction to stop a 12-day strike by its cabin crew over the Christmas and New Year's break. Today's ruling will be a relief to around one million travellers whose plans were threatened by the walkout, which had been due to start Tuesday. The court has backed BA's claim that the ballot of around 13,000 workers by the Unite union was illegal because it included members no longer employed by the airline. That means Unite must call off the strike. It can hold another ballot, but not until after Christmas.
BA operates 26 flights a week between the UAE and London, meaning a strike could have disrupted Christmas and New Year travel plans for tens of thousands of expatriates and holiday-makers in the Emirates and around the world. The airline's cabin crew had voted overwhelmingly on Monday to strike over job cuts, conditions and pay between December 22 and January 2 in a mass walkout that media have billed as "The Twelve Days of Christmas Strikes". British Airways reacted with delight to news of its court victory over Unite. "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, Britain's biggest union, was protesting at BA's imposed contractual changes that include fewer cabin crew on board flights, a pay freeze and different working conditions for new members of staff.
The union reacted with deep disappointment to the ruling. "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," the Unite joint general secretaries, Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, said in a statement. Aviation analysts estimated the strike could have cost BA between £10 million (Dh60m) and £30m a day. * AP/AFP