JANUARY 27th 2007
As the industrial society was forming on the base of societies based agriculture, artisanship and traditional hierarchies of ownership, organisation, loyalty and local self-support, it was inconceivable that we could have arrived at structures and norms of industrial relations without either trade unions or the organisation of collective bargaining, with strikes as the ultimate sanction. In present times, there are quite a few industries and occupations where, due to multiple connections and consequences, the effect of bringing operations to a halt is likely to bring widespread and irreparable damage in the immediate, medium and long term. In these, use of the strike weapon is not appropriate. Other means for employers and employees must be formally arranged. There are many ways to put pressure on an airline management without bringing flights to a halt.

Arguments concerning the amount of days off taken by cabin crew are perfectly capable of being logically resolved by discussion between representatives of management and staff. There is no case to be made by comparing a national average of days off for illness with those of cabin crew. It is perfectly permissible to go to work in a terrestrial office with suspicions of the onset of an illness, but it is not acceptable to commit oneself to a responsible position in an aircraft which once airborne cannot be evacuated and in which your performance at 100% capacity, even in emergency, is demanded.

Airline pilots, although sharing a source of cabin air, are not in physical contact with the mass of travelling public to the same extent as cabin staff who distribute and collect a variety of items potentially contaminated by travellers. It is therefore illogical to compare illness statistics between aircrew and cabin crew.If there is anecdotal evidence that cabin crew are abusing sickness claims in order to take planned leave of absence, a way must be devised to deal with this which does not affect the legitimate, responsible application for sick-leave. If pay levels are an issue that relates to this, the two elements must be brought together i negotiations, not kept artificially apart. It is possible that a bad practice of ignoring sick-leave abuse has been associated as a package with lower than acceptable pay.

On the face of it it would appear that some people with debatable motives are taking advantage of those with a genuine case against an oversimplified course taken by management. That there are some with debatable motives is made more plausible by the fact that when the overwhelming vote in favour of a strike was passed, those at the cutting edge were shown on TV cheering, laughing and clapping. How could people taking serious, damaging action as a very lat resort, bound to cause chaos and some inevitable deaths and millions of pounds loss for their company, take this vote in an atmosphere other than one of deep regret and sadness.

JANUARY 29th 2007
By dealing with the questions of pay and sick-leave sensibly and together the strike has been called off as of 13:55 today. I should bloody well think so too.