A panel of judges in the United Kingdom Thursday lifted an injunction that prevented British Airways cabin crew members from going on strike this week.
The 2-1 vote by the judges clears the way for the Unite union representing BA cabin crew members to begin a five-day strike Monday.
Monday, a High Court judge ruled that Unite union had failed to properly notify its members of the results of the vote authorizing the strike. The union quickly appealed the ruling and Unite Joint General Secretary Tony Woodley hailed today’s decision in favor of the union.
“We are delighted to have won today,” he said. “Justice has been secured. Had it not been, the right to strike would now be hanging by a thread.”
The company, of course, had a different take on the ruling.
“We are very disappointed that Unite’s appeal has been upheld, reintroducing the threat of strike action,“ read a statement on the airline’s website. “Our key concern now is to keep as many of you flying as possible and we will be proceeding with our contingency plans. We would like to apologize to any of you who are affected by the strike. We will do all we can to minimize the disruption to you.”
The union confirmed today that it planned to start a series of five-day strikes Monday, but Woodley held out a small olive branch to British Airways CEO Willie Walsh.
“BA must now accept that negotiation, not litigation, is the only way to secure the settlement we all want,” Woodley said. “However, further strikes will be unavoidable if the company does not immediately work with us to address the outstanding issues. This is a pause for peace. Willie Walsh must make the most of it.”
The airline, however, did not appear to be in a conciliatory mood.
“Unite’s strikes have failed twice and they will fail again,” a BA media statement predicted. “We are confident that thousands of cabin crew will ignore Unite’s strike call and help us fly more than 70 percent of the customers who were booked to fly with us in the period targeted.”
The dispute between the union and management began when the struggling airline announced a series of cost-cutting measures last year, including a two-year pay freeze and the elimination of one cabin crew member on all long-haul flights. Unite also is upset that certain travel perks were taken away from its members following a strike in March and that 50 of its members have had disciplinary action taken against them.
Related: British Airways strike halted by UK court