Unions | Cuddling the Tories

18 03 2010

Kudos to a fellow patriot for the links.  Apologies before hand as this is quite a selection of articles hopefully highlighting the collusion on the part of the Establishment in maintaining the status quo.  Throws a very interesting light on the whole British Airways’ affair and the entire Political Media storm it has kicked up.

Possible collusion on the part of the Bastards that Be?  Inner-Party plots within plots?  Or simply the way power works?

Firstly, Unite the union’s statement regarding this growing fiasco…

BA: United we stand campaign

Fighting back at British Airways – airline warned Walsh’s slash and burn strategy could destroy the company

Unite cabin crew members at British Airways recognise the pressures facing the company in the midst of the current economic crisis. Negotiations have been going on for over a year, but despite cabin crew being asked to make the heftiest sacrifices of all, British Airways continues to provoke cabin crew by imposing changes and refusing to negotiate openly and fairly.

BA cabin crew offered changes to pay and working practices that would have made savings of more than £100 million for British Airways, but the company rejected these proposals and repeatedly walked away from talks while introducing provocative changes.

Cabin crew are the customers’ closest contact with the airline, does British Airways really want to change from being the world’s greatest airline to the world’s most basic airline?

The latest provocation came when the company called for ‘strike breakers’ to stand in for crew during a strike. Find out more on the campaign, see the latest news updates.

Background

Unite has denounced BA’s attempt to impose significant contractural changes on its cabin crew employees, and introduce a second tier workforce on poorer pay and conditions.

Unite believes the new contractural changes are an attempt to force staff to pay the price for management failings with the company wringing more and more out of fewer and fewer staff who will be paid less.

Working hours will be extended, crew levels will be slashed, career opportunities will disappear and new starters will be brought in on bargain basement wages.  Unite says this will inevitably damage customer service and hit the brand, possibly leaving it beyond repair.

Read the full background article from the October/November 2009 edition of Unite’s Workplace Reporter: BA warned to back off

And from the gutterpress…

Millions of BA passengers in limbo as Labour is accused of being ‘in hock’ to unions

By Ray Massey, Daily Mail.  Last updated at 6:46 PM on 16th March 2010

Hundreds of thousands of British Airways passengers are already suffering the direct impact of this weekend’s looming strike by up to 12,000 cabin-crew, it emerged tonight.

Deadlock between BA and the hard-line Unite union – both engaged in a bitter war of words – is leaving up to million passengers  in limbo as the prospect of a peace-deal disappears over the horizon.

BA insiders said the union was having trouble ‘controlling its militants.’

Some passengers even risk being stranded on a remote Caribbean islands with only a weekly connecting service – though less fortunate travellers may feel there could be worse places to be stuck.

It is causing chaos in the run up to the Easter break as BA insiders warned they were reaching ‘the point of no return’.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown  was yesterday under renewed fire from the Conservatives over Labour’s financial and personal links to the giant Unite union spearheading the disruptive strike action. They dubbed him ‘Cash Gordon’ and said Labour was now a ‘wholly owned subsidiary of the big trade unions’.

BA has mounted a massive global operation to transport 60 per cent of its customers – up to 45,000 a day – on the first three strike days from this Saturday,with an emergency strike-breaking ‘phantom airline’.

It features up to 6,000 BA volunteers – including 1,000 pilots retrained as cabin crew – and supplemented by 21 fully-crewed charter aircraft.

But more than half its planes will be grounded leaving around 90,000 of the estimated 225,000 passengers over the first three-day strike period having to re-book, reschedule or cancel long-planned trips and holiday.

That misery will be repeated again for the second weekend strike – lasting four days from March 27 to 30 when around 120,000 passengers out of a total of 300,000 will need to rejig travel plans.

And the Unite union has warned that if a deal cannot be struck, strikes will begin again from April 14 – in the middle of many school Easter holidays affecting many more.

Legal experts say the union could continue its Spring of Strife ad infinitum through the Summer.

BA said that in the first 24 hours of its contingency operation it had received more than 40,000 phone calls to its telephone hotline, compared to 27,000 on a normal day.

In addition it had 600,000 ‘hits’ on its ba.com website – more than double those in a normal day – as booked passengers checked whether their flights would be  flying, or whether they would have to make alternative arrangements. BA said it was ‘coping well.’

British Airways has an agreement with 40 other airlines to re-book ‘free of charge’ any BA passengers hit by strike action.

But already, UK tourists risk being stranded on a Caribbean island after British Airways cancelled their only weekly flight home. The flight from Turks and Caicos to London has been axed on Sunday due to the BA cabin crew strike, with the Sunday March 28 service also at risk if the planned second wave of strikes goes ahead.

Nick Kidd, 51, one of the BA passengers who had been due to fly home this Sunday said: ‘You would have thought this would be the last flight BA would want to axe as there is only one a week.’

Mr Kidd, an events manager from Hammersmith in west London, said he found out about the cancellation on to the BA website.

‘There are families with young children out here and no one knows how they are going to get home,’ he added.

BA flight 252 would normally have flown from the Turks and Caicos island of Providenciales, stopping at Nassau in the Bahamas before flying on to London. BA has cancelled the Turks and Caicos to Nassau leg but says the plane would be flying from Nassau.

A BA spokesman said: ‘We will be contacting Mr Kidd and all the affected passengers. We will be discussing with them on a one-to-one basis their best travel options.’

BA suffered another blow today when arch-rival Virgin Atlantic was awarded the contract to fly the England team to the World Cup in South Africa.

Extra demand for seats in the wake of the BA cancellations has been driving up prices for those yet to book with BA or other airlines.

In the turmoil of the industrial and political row, millions of passengers have lost track of what the BA strike is actually about.

It began when loss-making BA introduced cost-cutting changes to cabin crew numbers – which have the effect of reducing levels on a jumbo jet from 15 to 14 – to save just under £63million a year.

The Unite union, representing 12,000 BA cabin crew, called for strike action which cabin crew backed 9 to 1 before Christmas. This ballot was ruled invalid and the re-ballot was 4 to 1 in favour of strikes, starting this weekend.

BA says it put forward ‘three times’ a last minute final offer peace deal which was conditional on  the union not announcing strike dates. It was withdrawn when the union did just that.

This BA offer  included the reinstatement of 184 full-time crew, annual pay rises of up to 4 per cent a year, bonuses worth 2 per cent or 4 per cent of basic salary, and commitments on working hours in exchange for the cabin crew agreeing to BA’s planned £62.5m of cost cuts.

BA also wanted the union to ‘recommend’ the offer to its members, which it has repeatedly refused to do.

BA says it has now incurred serious strike-related extra costs.

Unite ‘s joint General Secretary Tony Woodley countered: ‘Put the offer back on the table that we had last week and then we can postpone the dispute and get into real serious talks to solve this very difficult problem once and for all.’

A Unite spokesman added: ‘If BA thinks that strikes are going to be avoided with a worse offer, the company is conning the travelling public.’

Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the strikes are ‘deplorable’ and ‘unjustified’ and should be called off.

But the Conservatives say he has failed to criticise the union leadership because Labour is ‘bankrolled’ by Unite which has given £11million to Labour s over three years.

The union’s political director Charlie Whelan, Mr Brown’s former spin doctor, is also closely involved in Labour’s election campaign.

The militant BASSA cabin crew wing of the Unite union is holding a pre-strike meeting of its members at Sandown Park race-course on Friday where insiders say the union is expected to announce a picketing of Downing Street.

UNITE’S INFLUENCE IN THE LABOUR PARTY

Gordon Brown’s attack on Unite puts him on a collision course with the Labour party’s biggest donor.

The union – Britain’s biggest with almost two million members – has given £11million to the party in the last four years including £3.5million last year.

It boasts more than 160 members within Parliament, and a third of those hold government positions.

There are also 25 Unite Peers in the House of Lords.

Sixty Labour Parliamentary candidates at the election are members of Unite, while eight have been directly employed or held offices there.

Former Labour General Secretary Peter Watt gave an insight into the extent of the union’s power within the party when he said: ‘It is fair to describe the Labour Party as the political wing of Unite.’

He said the union was ‘ferociously well organised’ and exerted influence on candidate selection and policy at every level of the party.

Gordon Brown’s controversial former spin-doctor Charlie Whelan is the political director of the union, and he is expected to play a role in determining the next Labour leader.

Mr Whelan was sacked as Mr Brown’s press secretary in 1999 over his role in the home loan scandal that forced Peter Mandelson to quit the Cabinet.

He has recently been accused of using his influence to ensure a smooth succession for close ally Ed Balls.

60% LONG-HAUL WILL FLY

British Airways says almost two thirds its passengers would still fly, despite the planned walk-out by cabin crew.

It will use 22 fully-crewed charter planes to keep a third of its Heathrow short-haul services going, while 60 per cent of long-haul flights will be operating.

Chief executive Willie Walsh has recruited and trained thousands of volunteers from within BA to do the jobs of the striking cabin crew.

The Unite union claimed the disruption would be far greater.

Could this possibly have something to do with past meetings between the power-hungry Unions and the power-hungry Tories to clip Gordon’s wings…

Cameron meets union leaders at Commons

By Melissa Kite, Deputy Political Editor.  Published: 12:01AM GMT 12 Nov 2006

David Cameron has made another radical break with the Tory past by attempting to forge new links with union leaders.

Nearly 30 years after Baroness Thatcher waged war on the unions, the Conservative leader said he was happy to find “common cause” with them if it helped to improve the health service.

He revealed that he met a dozen union officials in the Commons, including representatives of the TUC, the Transport and General Workers’ Union and Unison.

During a tour of NHS hospitals designed to demonstrate his commitment to the health service, Mr Cameron told The Sunday Telegraph: “We are not going to agree about everything. But in terms of trusting professionals, getting rid of some of the centralisation, giving more independence to the NHS, the trade unions are interested in all of those things. Where we agree with each other we can work together.”

The union meeting is the latest in a series of repositioning moves. Earlier this year, Mr Cameron told his party it must stop making “knee-jerk attacks” on public service workers and said the private sector could learn lessons from the state.

The Tory leader met the union officials in the shadow cabinet room in the Commons 10 days ago. Rebuffing suggestions that some in his party would be horrified at him forging links with the unions, he said: “The party needs to understand that there is a great sense of enterprise within the health service, that we must not see the public sector only in terms of cost and spending. We need to think of people working in these organisations as having entrepreneurial flair.”

Mr Cameron said he wanted to make the Conservatives the party of the NHS. “We are at a turning point where Labour aren’t trusted on the NHS. The Conservative Party is building trust on the NHS.”

After decades of distrust between the Capitalist Tories and the Communistic Unions though, have they made any progress?  A few years back it looked promising…

Will Cameron’s Tories work with the unions?

By Toby Helm, Press Gazette.  12 September 2007

Reporter’s Guide in association with Unite the Union

David Cameron says the Tory Party must re-position itself at the centre of British politics. It is the only way, he argues, to make the party electable after three losses to Labour.

Old Tories, he says, were too “big business” orientated, too dismissive of “society”, too willing to assist corporate interests irrespective of whether those interests were responsible, good for consumers, or contributed to the common good.

There were mutterings early last year that Mr Cameron was even prepared to do business, or at the very least open new lines of communication with, those forces of left-wing outer darkness – the unions.

Announcing a new relationship might – journalists including myself speculated – be just the kind of “shock therapy” the Tory leader has so enjoyed administering to his party. He fuelled this thinking by saying he would invite Polly Toynbee, doyenne of the left-wing intelligentsia, to this year’s Tory conference. The invitation has yet to drop through her letter box.

Against this background, Unite – the flash new super union – seems ripe for Tory overtures. Its members are heavily represented in the “C” social class that Mr Cameron needs so badly to lure back to the fold. Forged in a marriage between the private sector union Amicus and the Transport and General Workers union, its membership is far from “cloth cap”.

Unite has the same proportion of Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail readers as the electorate at large. Its members live in semi-detached homes. Many are in middle managerial posts. They have as many conservatories, credit cards, cars, and qualifications as most people. They are, in short, the British electorate.

In some respects the Tories have moved in the unions’ direction. On the NHS, Mr Cameron has pledged to end Labour’s endless structural revolution. He has ditched plans to subsidise those who opt for private treatment and he wants to keep the service predominantly public. On pensions, there have been positive noises too, with Tory support in the House of Lords for compensation for those who have lost their pension funds.

Yet the unions remain unconvinced. And suspicion of Cameronism is as intense as towards any Tory leader since Thatcher. The publication in August by right-wing former cabinet minister John Redwood of his ideas for economic competitiveness has been viewed by the unions as proof that the “union bashing” torch burns as brightly as ever at Tory HQ.

The TUC sees the document as evidence of a Tory agenda to weaken union power. It believes Mr Redwood wants to scrap EU protection and working time regulations for British workers, to opt-out of the Social Chapter and to review the Health and Safety at Work Act. The TUC believes the Redwood agenda could not be achieved without leaving the EU altogether. David Cameron, union leaders suspect, is on board with much of this thinking.

There is another area of common ground. Many unions, like the Tories, want a referendum on the EU reform treaty because they want to kill it off. But the Tories’ reasons for doing so are very different from those of the pro-referendum unions.

The Tories believe the treaty gives Europe too much power. The unions, on the other hand, object to the way Tony Blair opted out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which would have offered more protection to UK workers. The unions and the Conservatives share a common purpose – but very different motives.

As he ponders a snap election, Gordon Brown will not want to overplay his friendship with the unions or give in to too many demands. But there is no danger of the “barons” transferring their affections to the other man courting middle Britain.

Postscript:  Toby Helm is chief political correspondent at the Daily Telegraph

Yet just last year after Dave’s speech at the Conservative Conference…

Unite’s reaction to David Cameron’s speech to the Tory party conference

Thursday, 08, Oct 2009 12:00

Unite joint general secretary, Derek Simpson said:

“At the height of the worst recession in decades Cameron said nothing about job creation, nothing about supporting our industries and nothing about reigning in his friends in the city who caused economic meltdown.

“Cameron pandered to the Thatcherite small state obsession at a time when anyone can see the need for more government intervention in the economy.

“The Tories are trying to fool the nation with Cameron playing the good cop and Osborne playing the bad cop.

“Cameron desperately tried to row back from the bleak picture painted by his shadow chancellor. No matter what he said the Tories will swing the axe at the public sector while making ordinary families work for longer and for less. “

So much hatred.  Wonder if it has something to do with all those extra benefits and gifts Labour have showered upon the Unions in return for those rather larger ‘donations’…

Tony Woodley, BA strike union leader, given Commons pass by Labour

James Kirkup, Political Correspondent.  Published: 10:00PM GMT 16 Mar 2010

Tony Woodley, the leader of the trade union behind the British Airways strike has been given a security pass to the House of Commons by a Labour MP.

Charlie Whelan, the political director of the Unite union, has also been given a Westminster pass by Labour, giving him free run of the Commons estate.

In total, eight Unite officials hold Commons passes sponsored by Labour. One holds a pass granted by a serving Government minister.

The Conservatives said that having given millions to Labour in recent years, Unite officials are now “roving around Parliament like they own the place.”

The Unite chiefs’ privileged access to Parliament was disclosed as the Conservatives published research showing that scores of Labour ministers, MPs and candidates, including Gordon Brown, have received thousands of pounds of financial support from the union.

Labour is now “in hock” to Unite, which has donated more than £11 million since 2007 years, the Tories said.

etc etc.

So maybe plots within plots…

Brown and Cameron clash in Commons over BA strike

Page last updated at 13:32 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

David Cameron has called Gordon Brown’s efforts to stop a planned strike by BA staff “feeble” as the two men clashed in Parliament over the issue.

The Tory leader said the prime minister had shown no “backbone” because of Labour’s links to the Unite union, whose members are backing the walkout.

But Mr Brown said the Conservatives were more interested in “provoking” the airline dispute than resolving it.

He added he had spoken to both sides and hoped they could reach a deal.

Since the strike was called last week, the Conservatives have sought to exploit Labour’s links with Unite – the union is Labour’s largest donor – and the relationship between its officials and Downing Street.

‘Handwringing’

During heated exchanges at prime minister’s questions, Mr Cameron said Mr Brown’s approach to the strike – which is due to begin this weekend – had been “weak”.

He asked the prime minister to support British Airways staff who were prepared to cross picket lines to “help get this business going”.

“It is back to the 1970s,” he said. “We have got handwringing from a weak prime minister while companies go down.”

Mr Cameron said the prime minister was reluctant to intervene in the dispute because of Labour’s financial links to Unite, describing the party as a “wholly owned subsidiary of the union”.

“They pick the candidates, they choose the policies, they elect the leader and they have special access to Downing Street. This why his response is so feeble. Isn’t is true that when the crunch comes he can only act in the union interest not the national interest?”

Mr Brown, who has previously described the strike as “deplorable”, said the Conservatives should be “ashamed” of themselves for using the dispute as a “political football”.

“I have already made my views clear about this dispute. What I also know is what passengers are wanting to know, what the country is wanting to know is whether we can resolve this dispute,” he said.

“He [Mr Cameron] has said nothing positive about resolving this dispute. It is the same old Tories.”

Mr Brown said he had spoken to both management and unions and believed that the two sides could “build” on an earlier outline agreement to resolve the dispute before the strike action began.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said both main parties were being “bankrolled”, comparing Labour’s links to Unite with the Tories’ relationship with its deputy chairman and donor Lord Ashcroft.

The party’s home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, told the World At One that Labour’s financial links with Unite cast doubt on whether it could act as an “honest broker” in the BA dispute.

“When general secretaries of Unite decide to snap their fingers, cabinet ministers do tend to come to attention,” he said.

Mass collusion from all the players for the political pantomime to make the Parties seem different?  Or some massive Leftarded Armies of Doom set-up?

Labour Party’s biggest backer Unite threaten to instigate a strike over the Easter break, which would piss off millions of the electorate.

The Media picks this up and begin to make this front-page news (lots of those unions about), making sure this is the ‘topic’ that shows the approved ‘political choice’ available for us the electorate to choose from.  All the free publicity.

The Tories see this as an opportunity to stick it to the Government, pointing out the obvious making sure any other ‘topic’ is playing second fiddle to this media-induced-drama, Dave will exert all political willpower, then POW!  A few days before planned industrial action, Gordon ‘solves’ the crisis and notches up an extra few points.

I’m sure Unite wouldn’t waste £24,000,000 to back a dead horse.  They know what will happen if the strike goes ahead as it was such actions that propelled Maggie into the Premiership.  The leadership might be a few sandwiches short of a picnic but surely they remember that.

We need a Nationalist Government if we want a Nation.

It is really as simple as that.  All the Established Parties are Internationalists Authoritarians who with the aid of European Laws cultivated our predicament.  The solution to our woes will not come from the causes of them.

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18 03 2010
Jack'd Ripp'd

Update: More from BNP Election Results “SO WHAT HAVE THE TORIES TO SAY ABOUT THIS UNION SPONSORSHIP?

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