Socialist Worker

New strike ballot for BA cabin crew

Issue No. 2184

Some 14,000 cabin crew workers at British Airways (BA) are set to be balloted again from Friday of next week for strikes.

Their Unite union is under pressure after 3,000 members of Bassa, the part of Unite that organises cabin crew workers, voted by 70 percent in a poll to put the 12-day strikes back on.

A yes vote could mean the strike starting on 1 March.

The dispute is over job cuts and attacks on conditions. BA bosses have already imposed cuts to cabin crew numbers.

But they were thrown into disarray before Christmas, when workers voted by an overwhelming 92 percent for strikes on an 80 percent turnout.

The union called 12 days of action in response to the workers’ massive vote to fight.

But BA went running to the courts and got the action suspended on a technicality of the anti-union laws, after arguing that 800 workers who had already taken voluntary redundancy had been balloted.

The judge banned the strike despite accepting that such a small number of votes would have made no difference to the outcome.

But the incredible way the courts rode roughshod over workers’ democratic decisions has only strengthened workers’ resolve.

Most cabin crew still want the hardest-hitting action possible – despite the courts and the media onslaught they faced over the first set of strikes.

And workers’ frustration is building as bosses simply impose changes, tying the union’s hands by saying anything it says or does before the ballot will be considered “unofficial industrial action” and used in the next legal challenge.

The union is going through its membership records with a fine tooth comb to avoid another defeat in court.

But if it comes down to it, this time Bassa members need to be ready to walk out – even if their strike is declared “illegal” again.

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Article information

Tue 12 Jan 2010, 18:09 GMT
Issue No. 2184
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