The second round of strike action by cabin crew at British Airways (BA), which ended on Tuesday, hit hard.
Pickets said that some workers who had been too afraid to strike before were striking this time.
BA workers are at the centre of an important political debate in Britain.
They remain defiant in their fight against bullying boss Willie Walsh’s attacks on their jobs, pay and conditions—despite condemnation of the union by Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
Cabin crew knew their action was having a bigger impact than BA bosses claimed.
“Only two crew turned up for the Tel Aviv flight this morning, so that was cancelled,” one workers said.
Striker Darren told Socialist Worker last Saturday, “They’ve wet leased other routes—which means that other airlines are flying them.
“Workers on the ground have told us that, for many flights, no crew turned up at all.”
There was a great atmosphere among strikers at Heathrow airport. Amanda drove over 100 miles from Lincolnshire to join the picket lines.
“Willie Walsh had four days between the strikes to resolve this and he did nothing,” she told Socialist Worker.
“The only way for us to achieve anything is to get rid of Walsh.”
Walsh has responded to the strikes by attacking the most vulnerable people.
BA has withdrawn staff travel for everyone who has been on strike and defines anyone who was off sick as taking part in the action.
Striker Mary told Socialist Worker, “BA says it won’t pay for the whole time you are off sick as long as the industrial action continues.
“I’ve worked here for 22 years and I’ve never known morale be as low as this. But I feel determined. You have to keep fighting don’t you? People around the world are watching us.”
Many pickets said that if Walsh wins, other workers will soon suffer too.
“The pilots who are scabbing are short-sighted,” said Chrissy. “It will be them next.”
“It’s not my fault that Virgin pays low wages,” added Marco. “When I hear them tell us that we should be ‘lucky’ to have a job I get angry. The rich just want more money.”
A group of Italian and Spanish BA workers were on picket duty near Hatton Cross tube station, chanting, “Scabin’ crew—shame on you!”
“BA told us you could work for BA and live anywhere in the world because of the staff
travel discount,” said Ana. “Now they’re taking that away.”
Trade unionists joined a Right to Work march on Saturday at Heathrow in support of striking cabin crew. They handed over money they had collected for the strikers.
Cabin crew from Iberia, which is set to merge with BA, travelled from Spain to show their support for BA workers.
The international solidarity reflects the fact that workers across the world are fighting similar attacks. A defeat for Walsh would give confidence to other groups to fight.
That’s why everyone must throw themselves into building support for them
All names have been changed to protect cabin crew.
For news on international support for BA workers go to » www.itfglobal.org/campaigns/BAactivities.cfm