ALL HELL broke loose in the computing section of British Airways at Heathrow Airport in west London last week. The company had announced it was to sell off three sections of the Information Management Department. Workers were gobsmacked. No one could believe it.
There is only 30 percent union membership in a department of 2,900, and there was a lot of fear. But some workers got leaflets out and a petition going, and 200 signed it in hours. Then nearly 700 workers packed into a mass meeting in the canteen on Wednesday of last week. They applauded one speaker who called BA boss Robert Ayling a 'bastard'. A big banner across the back of the canteen said, 'I'm not for sale.'
The meeting voted overwhelmingly that there should be a ballot for strike action if management doesn't back off. Nearly 400 workers then got placards saying, 'I'm not for sale', and marched to another big BA computer building. 'I've been waiting for this moment for 27 years,' said one worker as he grabbed a placard.
Some 100 people have joined either the GMB or MSF unions in the last week. There is now a real sparkle across whole areas of the department, with stickers and posters everywhere. Talks with the company were to take place this week.