Posts Tagged ‘industrial action’
If you live in the North and are a regular train commuter, there’s possible bad news for you this week – First TransPenine Express will be running a reduced schedule and cancelling several services due to industrial action tomorrow and again on Friday. Train drivers that belong to the ASLEF and RMT unions voted for the industrial action.
If you’re looking to travel by rail across Yorkshire or the North West, or you’re considering travelling from Scotland or the North East (in particular if you’re looking to fly from Manchester Airport) then check the train company’s website for further details and revised timetables, as well as information about their refund procedure.
If there are still trains running that suit your journey, bear in mind they’re going to be heaving – not only because of the cancellations and reduced timetables, but because it’s the school holidays and a bank holiday weekend. First class carriages will be declassified so that all types of tickets can use them, but it’s likely to still be a squeeze.
The bitter squabbling between British Airways and the union Unite has caused pain and misery for thousands of travellers; over the past 18 months, industrial action has seen hundreds of flights cancelled and little in the way of progress at the negotiating table. The threat of further strikes has never been far from the minds of the airline or its customers.
That looks likely to change, however. Cabin crew are today voting on a new deal to bring the dispute to a close. If staff approve, the agreement will see concessions returned to cabin crews, as well as a new two year pay deal. Unite is recommending its members accept the agreement.
BA has suffered massive losses in recent years; 2010 saw operations affected not only by industrial action but hundreds of shot and long-haul flights were cancelled by the eruption of Eyjafjallajokul. Customer confidence in the airline hasn’t been particularly high in recent months, but if the permanent threat of strikes is lifted, British Airways has at least a chance to win customers back.
British Airways haven’t had the best of years, with plummeting profits and industrial action taking their toll on passenger numbers. The disappointing news is that 2011 doesn’t necessarily look much brighter; not only is there the threat of further strikes, but BA are increasing the cost of long-haul flights.
Union Unite is to begin another ballot of its members, which includes cabin staff, with regards to further industrial action. The threat of strikes has hung over BA since last November, and the latest action could see staff walking out at the end of January. At this time last year, the union was attempting to disrupt travel over Christmas until their ballot was deemed illegal, so instead strikes occurred over the Easter break.
While BA say they’re confident of operating the majority of flights in the eventuality of industrial action, they’re hardly sweetening the deal for passengers by increasing fuel surcharges. All long-haul flights will now cost an additional £20 for all return routes – it means passengers travelling in the economy World Traveller class will pay up to £76 in fuel surcharges alone.
We recently reported on the threat of dual strikes on two of the UK’s major airlines – British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Thankfully, that’s not going to happen – guess which one has sorted itself out? Yeah.
Virgin Atlantic had been at loggerheads with the pilot’s union BALPA over the reduction of holidays for pilots, amongst other issues, but the dispute has been resolved and there’ll be no industrial action as a result.
What’s interesting is the view of the union; this is BALPA’s Jim McAuslan speaking about the negotiations:
“Both sides have conducted talks that were frank, to the point and creative. Whilst the issue has created much debate, we are now happy with both the agreement and the ground that has been laid for our future relationship with the company.”
Happy. To the point. Creative. Perhaps Virgin Atlantic really are unlike any other company, or maybe this union goes about business differently. Regardless, paid-up passengers to British Airways are no doubt hoping their dispute will be resolved in a similar fashion.
The airline and union Unite are due to meet again next week to negotiate over cabin crew pay and conditions, with further disruptions to flights threatened if the matter isn’t resolved.
Commuters and touirsts rejoice! London is bracing itself for a series of strikes on the tube, beginning on Monday. Talks between the RMT and London Underground have broken down with no date for further negotiations in the diary.
Beyond the 24 hour strike which starts on Monday evening and continue throughout Tuesday, there are three further 24 hour strikes planned – on 3 October, 2 November and 28 November. In a separate dispute, members of the TSSA union are taking industrial action on Tuesday, and depot works on the Northern and Jubilee lines are striking for 24 hours from Sunday evening onwards, which is also likely to cause problems. Excuse my French, but for fuck’s sake, people.
What does it all mean for you? The walkouts begin on Monday from 5pm but are staggered, and not all drivers are members of the RMT union, so there should be at some trains running throughout the 24 hour period. However, any significant reduction in services will create pandemonium at rush hour, so London Underground has announced a list of additional services on major buses routes and river crossings. There’s also the new cycle hire scheme, but expect that to descend into playground fighting.
There’s more information on travel alternatives on the Transport for London website.
Because the union Unite haven’t screwed with the travel plans of quite enough plane passengers recently, they’re about to have another crack this Thursday. While still holding British Airways over a barrel in a dispute that stretches back to the late 17th century, the union is now threatening industrial action at six airports across the country.
The results of a ballot of more than 6,000 union members will be published on Thursday, but this time of the members are ground staff at Heathrow, Stansted, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Southampton and Glasgow airports. As always, the ballot concerns pay, and as always, at a time when the travel industry has been hurt by not only the recession but Icelandic voclanoes, keeping a job should perhaps be reward enough.
Regardless, the union has promised to take swift action should they receive the votes they need, which would invariably cause untold misery for thousands of families during the summer holidays – the six airports handle a combined total of 300,000 passengers a day.
If you booked your family’s summer holiday at some point last year, you’d have probably assumed Unite’s ongoing dispute with British Airways would be resolved long before it was time to pack your bags. Sorry about that. The row has gone on for nearly a year and a half with no progress made, and now more strike action is looming… in August.
Yesterday, the union set a deadline for British Airways to come to the table and resolve the issues concerning staff reductions, pay and packages. If no agreement is found within the week, then the union intends to call for a new strike ballot that would likely end in the last week of July.
If members vote in favour of strikes, then industrial action could threaten flights throughout August, making BA even more unpopular with consumers than it already is. British Airways are remaining bullish about the possibility of such action – but then they have to: there have already been three weeks worth of strikes during this dispute, that have cost the airline an estimated £150 million. Regardless, BA is saying it plans to run all long-haul services and most short-haul flights if there is further action.
More troubles for the summer ahead, then, and no doubt time for the broadsheets to trot out a glut of Top 50 ‘staycation’ holiday supplements.
The Great British Pub is an ailing, sickly thing. Pubs are dropping like brides’ nighties leaving us faced with a wall of chain pubs and their fart-smelling pints. The latest figure is that 52 boozers are closing every week.
As our locals shut up shop, we find ourselves increasingly likely to stay in our homes getting rat-arsed, smoking tabs on the flammable couch and pretending to talk to strangers when we go for a slash and standing in our gardens throwing wild punches at an imagined adversary who fingered our girlfriend’s pint.
And things could get a whole lot worse.
You see, pubs are getting priced out of the game and thousands of landlords are set to vote on whether to take industrial action in protest at the amount they must pay in overheads.
Over half of Britain’s pubs are owned by large pub firms – pubcos – and the GMB union says they require landlords to buy beer at a premium rate, as well as being asked to cough up for an up-front fee to and over-the-odds rent.
Apparently, there’s around 25,000 landlords in the UK who run ‘tied pubs’, which are rented from one of seven large property companies who also sell them beer. GMB reckons that the pubs are being charged up to double the wholesale price of beer available on the open market and makes demands of £12,000 of the annual cut in wholesale payments for each pub.
Industrial action looks inevitable but as yet, is not clear in what shape it will take. Should the staff and landlords decide to picket across the doors of their pubs, we could well see pubco reps backed by policemen with their numbers covered taking swipes at busty barmaids whilst alcoholics openly weep stage left as Billy Bragg strikes up a tuneless protest song.
Or, it could be a good time to start getting hammered on cheap ale.
GMB national officer Paul Maloney said: “If members vote for action, pubs will lower prices to customers during the dispute. The aim of the action by the tied tenants is to secure negotiation with pubcos to achieve very substantial cuts in wholesale prices and a resolution to a wide range of grievances experienced by the tied tenants at the hands of the pubcos’ middle managers and their agents.”
MPs from the Business and Enterprise Select Committee have called for the Competition Commission to investigate arrangements that oblige pub tenants to take beer supplies only from their landlords.
A strike by British Airways cabin crew planned for Christmas has been declared illegal in a High Court ruling.
The court agreed with BA that the cabin crew’s union, Unite, had not correctly balloted its members on the strike action.
The injunction means that the 12-day strike cannot now go ahead.
Unite called it “a disgraceful day for democracy” and vowed to hold a fresh ballot of cabin crew if the dispute with BA was not resolved.
Commenting on the BA website, a statement from the airline read:
In recent days, we believe Unite has formed a better understanding of our position and of the ways in which we could move forward. It has also become very clear that our customers do not believe that old-style trade union militancy is relevant to our efforts to move British Airways back toward profitability. Financial success is essential to build the kind of business our customers want and provide long-term opportunities for our staff.
We’ve been critical of British Airways management since the day Bitterwallet was born, but you’ll have noticed we’re not hugely enamoured by union Unite holding their twelve day cabin crew strike over Christmas and new year. When the company is in nine figures of debt, taking sustained industrial action at the time of year that’ll do most harm to both its revenue and public image doesn’t seem a particularly clever way of securing jobs for the future.
According to the press, it seems there are members of the union feeling the same; the London Evening Standard reports that staff members are voicing their concerns on a private website called BASSA (British Airlines Stewards and Stewardessess Association) which is operated by Unite. Quotes from BA staff members include:
“I understand the need to act now and show our resolve asap, but I and many others I have spoken to today really believe the Christmas dates are not doing us any favours for the cause. I am seriously thinking January would have been better. The public backlash is already enormous… I am always with the union, but I have a horrible feeling they may have got this one wrong.”
“Twelve days over the Christmas period was a step too far. I certainly wasn’t aware that in voting to strike it would be 12 days and have to say I was shocked. I will of course fulfil my decision to strike but I feel physically sick at the thought.”
Meanwhile the Daily Mail has sharpened its pitchfork and lit the torches in a bid to fan the flames of dissent amongst BA customers, by claiming key union figures spend their time living in Los Angeles and running kitchen businesses during their rest days. Burn the witch! Then drown the witch! Baying mob, please form an orderly queue here.
If you’re planning to fly abroad at Christmas, it may be worth avoiding British Airways for the time being. After a lengthy catalogue of cutbacks in service, desperate measures and record losses, the airline’s disastrous year could be crowned with a series of strikes during the festive holidays, leaving passengers well and truly screwed.
Cabin crew and union representatives are meeting today to discuss the possibility of strike action, following nine months of negotiations with BA. The changes proposed by the airline include pay freezes for two years and reducing the number of cabin crew on long-haul flights from Heathrow. BA are hoping that 1,000 staff will request voluntary redundancy and more than 3,000 will request having their roles reduced to part-time hours. In a recession. Gotcha.
The results of the ballot on possible strike action is set to be announced on December 14th; since unions must give seven days notice of industrial action, it could mean BA flights are suspended before and after Christmas.