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The glory days of ACAS are over. BAA Airport Strike, a Political Issue for Unite leadership




The glory days of ACAS are over. BAA Airport Strike, a Political Issue for Unite leadership.

Julian Bray, media & aviation expert comments: There is a disturbing political slant to the Spanish owned BAA Limited airport dispute. Several senior Unite figures are internally up for re-election over the next 18 months; they have to be seen to be in control of their 6,000 BAA membership and also seen as a credible force in the wage and benefits negotiation rounds with all employers, not just Spanish-owned BAA Limited and British Airways.  

The other local difficulty is that Unite is effectively bankrolling the shattered remains of the Labour Party, acting as fiscal kingmakers in the forthcoming leadership elections. Not much of an ad. if  the membership is out on strike during the leadership election hustings and possibly working to rule, well into the party conference season.

It will also not have escaped the notice of the electorate that Gordon Browns' discredited venom-spitting spinmeister Charlie Whelan re-surfaced with a cushy but powerful job as political director inside the Unite Union (I wonder if that appointment really went through a democratic interview and appointment process, Brothers?). Charlie (who has blocked me on Twitter..ha! A result so must be doing something right!) is effectively still in a position to deliver political mischief, no matter how many forced redundancies and bust companies his current antics may cause.

You also have to consider that airport workers for years have been cossetted with a pay and benefits regime that most engineering and consruction industries would die for. Ryanairs' boss has said as much.  The newish Spanish bosses at BAA Limited are finally beginning to understand what "Spanish Practices" UK style is really all about.

In the UK, the new bosses are dealing with a battle hardened old style industrial relations workforce who will go out on a limb to support their Union negotiators. The worry has to be, is the current round of industrial and worker unrest simply a protest over working conditions or is it a political move to bring down the CONLIB Coalition at any cost?  The outcome? Install a compliant Unite bankrolled Labour administration under freshly mandated new leadership. That is new leaders BOTH at Unite and the Labour Party. Lots to play for!

Meanwhile London Gatwick and many miles away from London, Luton Airport remains open for business and non airport dependent holidays such as Southampton no-fly no baggage limit cruises are seeing a boom in buisiness with cruise liners leaving UK ports.

Holidaymakers hitting the duty free bars, heated swimming and whirlpools seconds after the ships have cast off . They will however have to arrive at Southampton by train or coach as Southampton Airport is also the property of the Spanish owned BAA Limited and also threatened with a total closedown.

Contributor: Aviation & Media Expert Julian Bray
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