Socialist Worker

BA cabin crew say: set new strike dates

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2195

British Airways cabin crew were in defiant mood as they gathered at the TUC in London on Tuesday to mark the end of their second successful strike

British Airways cabin crew were in defiant mood as they gathered at the TUC in London on Tuesday to mark the end of their second successful strike

Cabin crew at British Airways want more strikes to finish off bullying boss Willie Walsh.

Workers have taken part in two successful strikes – a three-day strike and a four-day strike – in protest at Walsh’s plans to slash jobs, pay and conditions at the airline.

The strikes caused huge disruption and cost BA millions in compensating customers, hiring other airlines and scab crew to fly scab planes and flying empty planes around the world.

They won support from other groups of workers and other workers at BA. Yet the Unite union has not called further dates. It has ruled out striking over Easter.

Bassa union members, the cabin crew section of Unite, are demanding that the union sets more dates for longer strikes to have a bigger impact.

“UNITE/BASSA please listen,” reads one post on a Bassa forum. “We need to announce dates NOW!! 14th is too late.”

“UNITE – SET THE DATES NEXT WEEK,” reads another. “Strike while the iron’s hot Unite,” says another.

Workers know that delays give Walsh more time to prepare strikebreaking and intimidate cabin crew. “Unite please give more strike dates over Easter or Walsh will have his dark army ready to do his evil work for him and destroy everything we have fought for,” writes one worker.

“Don’t let this despot regroup and attack us. Attack is the best form of defence so let’s just bring him down.”

The mood among many workers stands in stark contrast to the action, or lack of it, from the union leadership. Workers want to escalate the fight because they know that’s how to win.

Meanwhile Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson, joint general secretaries of Unite, place their faith in “negotiating” with Walsh.

Indefinite strike

Walsh doesn’t want to negotiate. The only way to make a breakthrough is to strike hard.

“We should have gone on strike over Easter,” one worker writes on the forum. “Unite should announce strike dates as soon as possible and for as long as possible – for at least 10 days so EVERYONE gets involved.”

Others go further. “Please Unite give 7 days notice from tomorrow of indefinite walk out.”


The union leadership is feeling the pressure from cabin crew. At a mass gathering of workers to mark the end of their strike on Tuesday of this week at the TUC, Tony Woodley spoke to workers.

He said that “nobody wants to strike” and that “nobody wants to cost the company money unnecessarily”.

Crew interrupted him with chants of, “Willie, Willie, Willie – Out, Out, Out!”

Woodley’s tone changed. He said, “the company has to understand that we will not kow tow and we won’t capitulate”.

Union officials handed placards to workers reading, “It’s good to talk”. But it’s clear that this doesn’t capture the defiant mood among workers.

Cabin crew have to keep up the pressure on their union. They are in a serious battle with a boss who wants to smash them. They can win the battle – but they will win it quicker if they escalate the action and try to pull in other BA workers to fight with them.

As one cabin crew member points out, “We are the union. If Unite is not aware of the majority of feelings regarding this issue, then there is something wrong.

“Listen to your members and stop worrying about what Joe Public, the media or Willie the Weasel will say. After all, you’re allowed to change your mind over promises you’ve made – just look at our CEO for confirmation of that.”

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