Amicus / Unite are one of the main unions in Great Britain and they represent 2 million members. The union is also very closely linked to the Labour Party and provides financial support to Prime Minister Gordon Brown among many other leading Labour Politicians.
On the Amicus / Unite website it states “a union that stands up for equality for all” and “We give our membership a voice”, all of course, very noble statements. Indeed the whole point of a union is to prevent unlawful discrimination and exploitation of its members by unscrupulous employers.
With the above in mind which, of the following scenarios would you have thought Amicus / Unite would support and back?
British Airways wish to reduce the crewing levels on its long haul fleet down to the same level as other airlines within the industry, however at a time of massive losses, not just for British Airways but for the aviation industry as a whole, Amicus / Unite recommends strike action against British Airways. No doubt to cause maximum distress and disruption to the travelling public, the union attempted to hold the strike over the Christmas period. When that was ruled illegal by the courts they then called for the strike, once again, over a holiday period, this time Easter.
Union Stance With British Airways
The Airline BMI (British Midland Airways), sent a memo to its crew stating “It is expected that female crew members walk behind their male counterparts in public areas such as the airport no matter what rank.” and then via email, “regarding the abaya, it’s an item of uniform that should be worn as the times and destinations it’s provided for, so refusal to wear it would be treated the same as a refusal to wear any other uniform item -- ie as a potential disciplinary matter”. Lisa Ashton a BMI cabin crew member, wrote to BMI and drew their attention to a clause in her contract that stated, “crew shall perform such duties in the air and on the ground as the Company may REASONABLY require.” i.e. that all duties must legal, non-discriminatory and in full compliance with the Human Rights law.
The Saudi Embassy in London confirms, with regards to visitors to the country, that there is no requirement in Saudi for women to walk behind the men nor a requirement for Western women to wear the Islamic abaya, only a requirement for women to dress conservatively.
Amicus / Unite’s Conflict of Interest
Despite the union’s statement that they stand against discrimination, union Amicus/ Unite refused to support Lisa Ashton in the Tribunal case and they refused Lisa direct access to Amicus / Unite’s legal team, insisting that all concerns must be forwarded to a union officer first. At this time Lisa informed the officer that she wished to deal directly with the legal team to remove any possibility of the legal team not getting all the relevant details. This was refused by the union rep.
You will see glaring mistakes made by the union’s legal team in missing, or mis-reading vital information that they were presented with.
Was the reason Amicus / Unite refused to support Lisa due to a conflict of interests?
Amicus / Unite ageed with the airline BMI (British Midland Airways) that they could impose these discriminatory demands, therefore supporting Lisa would mean the union would in effect be arguing against something the union had already agreed to.
To follow the paper trail between the union and Lisa, which includes emails and letters please click the “Amicus / Unite” link on the right.