Over 80 percent of British Airways (BA) cabin crew have voted for strikes to defend jobs.
And this was on a turnout of nearly 80 percent in the ballot.
Workers have made clear, once again, that they want to take action. They have done so despite intimidation and strikebreaking by bosses.
The workers’ Unite union must press on with hard-hitting, militant action to ram that message home.
The last strike was stopped by the anti-union laws. The next must go ahead whatever the judges say.
Bosses have already imposed job cuts. They want to bring in a new fleet of workers on lower pay and worse conditions.
They have openly organised scabs to undermine strikes.
A shadowy scab “union”, the Professional Cabin Crew Council, has emerged. The people behind it refuse to say who they are.
But they are clear about how they will act during a strike. “We will be there crossing the picket line,” the PCCC says.
No wonder workers think BA is out to smash the union.
The right wing media are also attacking cabin crew. They claim that BA workers enjoy better pay and conditions than workers for other airlines.
But the reality of life for most BA cabin crew is a million miles from that.
“I take home around £1,100 a month. I’m still entitled to working tax credits because we’re classified as low paid workers,” says one cabin crew worker, speaking on a Unite video.
“Many of us have two jobs—often in bars and restaurants—to make ends meet.”
Unite says that three out of four cabin crew earn less than £20,000 a year.
BA bosses are hypocrites. They profit from their image of not being a stingy “low cost” airline. But BA wants to cut pay for new cabin crew to as low as £14,000. It wants to impose a two-year pay freeze on some workers and take away allowances.
It also wants to cut over 1,000 jobs—meaning an increased workload for those left and a less safe service.
BA bosses are putting safety at risk. Flight attendants working for BA are trained for an average of 30 weeks.
Yet BA is prepared to put scabs on flights with only a few days’ training.
BA cabin crew are not well-paid jetsetters. But even if they were, we shouldn’t accept the argument that workers must “level down”.
Ryanair workers do get paid less. But there should be a fight to bring them up to at least BA’s levels and more, not the other way around.
BA cabin crew didn’t cause the economic crisis. Why should they pay for it?