Virgin boss Richard Branson has a modern cuddly image, but he’s just an old-fashioned union-buster at heart.
Ah, Richard Branson. We know he’s cuddly and radical because he does not wear a tie. However, he’s just completed a deal on Northern Rock that will enable asset-stripping worth £600 million.
Oh, and he’s trying to bust a union drive among American workers at Virgin’s airline business.
The US based Transport Workers Union have collected a petition for a union to be recognised at Virgin in America, that carries the signatures of a majority of the American workforce.
The petition triggered a ballot, which closes today. Given that a majority of the workforces have asked for this ballot to go ahead, you would think it would be time for Branson to sit down with the union and work out how management and labour can have a constructive partnership.
Instead, he’s filming scare videos like this for staff to watch:
Virgin appears to need a union. One flight attendant, New Yorker Ramon Wood said:
“We’re very proud that Virgin America wins high marks from travelers, based on the service we provide.
“We believe we can make service better for passengers and elevate working conditions for in-flight team members by having a voice in our dealings with the company. Right now we’re seldom heard and our concerns are not addressed. This is why we turned to TWU.”
Meanwhile, the TWU already organise at Virgin rivals SouthWest Airlines – which has made a profit for the last 38 years – and Allegiant Airlines. You would think the new age businessman Branson would want to opt for co-operation over confrontation. But it turns out he prefers fear over partnership.
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• Raab’s attacks on workers’ rights are – surprise – based on no evidence – Sarah Veale, November 16th 2011
• Priti Patel’s attacks on trade unions are all about ideology – Carl Roper, October 12th 2011
• The Daily Mail’s poisonous lies must be fought by all trade unionists – Rick Coyle, September 23rd 2011
• Mail masks Thatcher’s true legacy: Unions busted, hours extended, productivity held back – Daniel Elton, May 5th 2011
• The BA cabin crew dispute: The view from the shop floor – Anonymous, January 10th 2011