My first reaction to the decision of the high court in granting an injunction against Unite over their BA Ballot was one of anger and frustration, and a judgement that will have implications or us all. As Professor Gregor Gall from the University of Hertfordshire said in his letter to the Guardian on 19 December, the decision of the judge to take into account the level of disruption that would arise from the proposed action does not appear to have any basis in law.
In addition the number of those voting who were no longer BA employees did not materially affect the ballot result. As we all know, the law governing industrial action ballots are onerous, despite the limited reforms of this government. This new interpretation, which I hope will be appealed by Unite, will make it even more difficult for unions, including our own, to conduct industrial action ballots. After all some employers seem to be more willing to go the their lawyers to frustrate union action rather than sit down and negotiate with them.
The NUJ has always supported that case for further reform of our miserable trade union laws and this was reaffirmed at this year’s conference. It’s even more urgent now following this judgement and with a general election looming within 4 months, and the possibility of a Tory government waiting in the wings, our unions, through the TUC, need to redouble their efforts now to get reforming legislation through parliament to redress the balance of power in our favour.