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The Diary.

Byline: Denis Kilcommons ,

`Fair shake for the cocktail makers '

A BANK holiday is on the horizon. It must be time for a strike.

That seems to be the reasoning in the on-going pay talks between unions representing check-in staff and baggage handlers and British Airways.

The union says their members could strike over the August Bank Holiday weekend. "We have no interest in closing down BA and inconveniencing the public," says a spokesman.

But they will do just that because it will be the most effective tactic to get their own way.

A strike will bring airport misery to an estimated 400,000 passengers who would be hoping to fly to the sun but who could spend the first two or three days of their summer holiday sleeping on the floor of a departure lounge. The knock-on effect could hit hundreds of thousands more.

Now I do not know the merit or otherwise of the pay claim, particularly in the light of the millions BA have made in profit this year.

But the union tactics are designed to cause maximum disruption to the public and financial loss to the airline. The union will hope they hurt enough for the company to cave in and accede to their demands.

Tactics were ever thus.

But what about those workers who are trying to negotiate a better pay deal but have no way of forcing the issue?

What about binbag makers?

"We'll withdraw our labour."

"All right. I'll close the factory and buy them from Latvia."

Or shop assistants at the Emporium of Low Pay?

"We intend to strike in support of 5p an hour above the national minimum wage."

"You're sacked."

Or baked bean canners?

"We're staging a 24 hour stoppage."

"That's all right. We've got a warehouse full of them."

Many workers simply don't have the negotiating power that others have.

So why don't all trade unions get together so that the strong can help the weak and those who are unable to help themselves?

Equity could back the Cocktail Makers Union in their quest for a fair shake. "I strongly suggest a settlement and a vodka martini ..."

The PFA could support the Amalgamated Brotherhood of Net Makers. "Town refuse to score any more home goals unless ..."

Although I suspect airline check-in staff will have more success backing nurses by being able to say: "Let's negotiate sensibly or nobody gets a holiday this year."

That would be proper trade unionism in action.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Aug 18, 2004
Words:411
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