Case - UNITE the Union v. United Kingdom

European Court of Human Rights - Lord Hendy QC, Michael Ford QC
Counsel for UNITE the Union: John Hendy QC leading Michael Ford
An application to the European Court of Human Rights has been made on the basis that UK legislation is incompatible with Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, in that there is no protection in law against, or remedy for, detriment imposed for taking part in industrial action where the detriment consists of acts or omissions short of dismissal.

In November 2009, British Airways unilaterally reduced the number of cabin crew members on long haul flights so that remaining cabin crew members worked longer and harder, in breach of their collective agreements. Consequently, UNITE held a ballot for industrial action, and 5000 cabin crew went on strike between 20-22 March 2010 and 27-30 March 2010. The cabin crew members who went on strike were permanently denied by British Airways the non-contractual travel concessions, and benefits they would have otherwise enjoyed.

The withdrawal of the travel benefits was expressly by reason of the exercise of the right to strike by the individual Applicants. It is argued that the exercise of the right to strike is an “essential element” of Article 11, and if it is not, it falls within Article 14.

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