Labor Inaction


Mark Steel, a watermelon, a young boy, and a plastic fetishI mean, really ….

At last, someone’s come up with a clean, decisive system for holding elections. The way it works is everyone has a vote, and then the management of British Airways and a judge decide the result. They’ve tried this method with the ballot for a strike amongst cabin crews, who voted 7,482 to 1,789 in favour. So the courts ruled that this didn’t count because the Unite union didn’t mention, in some of its announcements, that 11 ballot papers had been spoilt.

There has been the odd critic of this ruling, such as the President of North Korea who said, “Oh that’s going TOO far”, but you can see BA’s point. Because there may have been many union members who were only prepared to support the strike as long as the number of spoilt ballot papers wasn’t a prime number. Imagine how cheated they’d have felt if they’d lost three days’ pay, assuming the number of spoilt papers was 12 or something divisible by seven and then they’d found out the shocking truth when it was too late.

So the courts decided the strike was illegal and the ballot has to start again. This time it could be 10,000 in favour and none against, and a judge will say, “It still doesn’t count, because the union didn’t announce the result in a Geordie accent.” So Unite will comply with that, and the judge will say, “No, that was Middlesborough. You’ll have to start all over again.” The next vote will be annulled because the union reps didn’t convey the result as a piece of contemporary dance, and the one after that won’t count because a writing expert will declare some ballot papers were marked by a voter’s left hand, which is the Devil’s hand and Satan isn’t registered as a paid-up Unite member. Then there’ll be a rule that as they’ll be thrown away in the event of a strike, each in-flight dinner should have a vote, which will be assumed to be “No” if they don’t bother.

This would make more sense than the statement by BA chief Willie Walsh, who said, “The vast majority of our staff have demonstrated they don’t support this strike.” He can say that because unlike the union, which is relying on the shady evidence of the number of votes cast, he’s going on the more dependable basis of what he sort of reckons.

Maybe you missed this during the brouhaha about the British general election. I did, sort of. I mean, I remember hearing talk of a BA strike. I remember hearing about the vote in favor of a strike. But the rest of it I somehow missed.

Not that any of that matters from the far side of a continent on the far side of an ocean from Britain, but there is something amiss when it’s the comedian‘s explanation of something that makes us say, “Oh, that makes sense. Why didn’t you say so before?”

Truth is stranger than fiction, and it is my understanding—gleaned from some dark recess of my past—that this is because sooner or later, fiction is obliged to make some manner of sense. But if one ever doubts this maxim, they need only look to the free world, and the devices by which we keep ourselves, more or less, free.

Who’s on strike ….


Labor action news from around the Americas, courtesy the folks over at WSWS.org:

Peru – Gold miners threaten strike over wages, retirement, and working conditions.

Urugay – Municipal employees strike in Concepción during contract talks.

Argentina – Teachers in Catamarca stage a work slowdown over wages and subsidy maintenance.

Mexico – Teachers’ strike slated for November; Sonoran copper miners striking since July.

United States – Pennsylvania legislature works to abolish teacher strikes; California sanitation workers (Teamster’s Local 396) reject contract proposal, strike against Waste Management.