Socialist Worker

The fight is on at British Airways

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2193

Unite union officials have confirmed that a three-day strike of British Airways cabin crew will go ahead. It begins tomorrow.

The announcement follows an angry mass meeting today where cabin crew demanded that union officials go ahead with the action.

Workers were furious at the behaviour of BA boss Willie Walsh, the media’s anti-union bile, and the Labour Party.

They are determined to fight because they know that the battle is about the future of their union, Unite, and its cabin crew section Bassa.

Many workers described Walsh’s agenda as “union busting” and said that if they didn’t win, their working conditions would be unbearable.

The biggest cheers went to those workers and reps who attacked Walsh—and the Labour Party.

One worker suggested that the meeting resolve to send a motion to Unite nationally to demand that the union stop funding Labour while the party attacks workers.

Workers applauded her—but officials said it wasn’t possible because the meeting wasn’t an official branch meeting.

Some union officials were in tune with the mood of the meeting.

Steve Turner, Unite’s national officer for aviation, told the meeting, “There is a fundamental attack on BA employees and if it’s successful against cabin crew, you watch the speed of pace it will spread to everyone else.

“It is so important that we win this dispute.”

To cheers and applause he reeled off a list of countries where trade unions had offered their solidarity to BA cabin crew—including France, Germany, Australia, India, Dubai, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Hungary, Russia and South Africa.

But others lagged behind. One seemed to accept that some attacks on cabin crew were inevitable and that all that could be done was to fight over how bad they were.

Cabin crew picked up on this and challenged him.

“There’s an angry but determined mood among workers,” one woman cabin crew member told Socialist Worker at the end. “I want Willie Walsh to fall on his own sword.

“I’ve stopped my funding to Labour through the union. It’s sad because I’ve always backed Labour. But the way they’ve behaved is deplorable.”

Bring your union banners to the picket lines at Heathrow and Gatwick from 6am tomorrow, Sunday and Monday. Unite will hold a solidarity demonstration at Heathrow at 10.30am tomorrow—everyone who can should be building this to show their support for cabin crew.

Socialist Workers Party public meeting: From Greece to British Airways—Austerity or Resistance? Monday 22 March, 5pm, The Bulstrode, Lampton, TW3 1JG, by Hounslow Central tube station.


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Fri 19 Mar 2010, 16:28 GMT
Issue No. 2193
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