Socialist Worker

Revealed: latest developments in British Airways cabin crew dispute

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2198

The ban on flights out of UK airports has been lifted – but the dispute at British Airways (BA) remains grounded.

Today the joint general secretaries of the Unite union, Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson, issued an update on the state of negotiations with BA to Bassa, the cabin crew section of Unite.

Despite two weeks of talks and various deadlines coming and going, British Airways management still seem determined to smash union organisation among BA cabin crew. Bullying boss Willie Walsh is pushing through job cuts, attacks on pay and conditions, and union organisation.

A Bassa statement to members, seen by Socialist Worker, describes the negotiations as having produced “a potential proposal to settle the current dispute”.

The statement goes on to say, “Not all of the areas were clearly worded and subject to interpretation and therefore further clarity has been sought. When we have received that clarity and when the outstanding items are resolved, we shall publish the entire document for your review.”

However, the statement points out that Walsh is holding onto some of his attacks on workers and their reps.

It states, “Two pivotal issues remain unresolved – reinstatement of staff travel and the dispute related disciplinaries.

“We know this is incredibly frustrating for you, as it is for us. But be assured, any next step will rest with you.”

The vagueness of the statement is problematic. It does not let the workers know what issues those at the top of the union consider to be resolved, or in what way. It gives no deadline of when the other issues will be resolved by or any timetable of the talks.

Significant

For all the talk that it will be cabin crew who make the decisions in this dispute, so far they have all been decided at the top of the union.

Cabin crew have struck for seven days so far. The strikes were well supported and made a significant impact on BA’s operations.

Many cabin crew are deeply frustrated with the union leaders’ failure to call more action.

In response to the statement, a growing number of cabin crew on the Bassa forum are calling for an emergency union meeting to discuss their dispute.

“You the members have the final say?” asks one worker. “We the members gave you a very clear mandate, no putting off until election, no leaving members suspended and victimised, show some leadership.”

“We have no deal and yet there is still no movement on a strike date?” asks another.

Another worker simply points out, “I voted to strike until a settlement was reached.”

They are right. Workers can win this dispute but they need to take action in order to do so.

They should call an emergency meeting of members now and argue for the action that can get Walsh to back down.


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Article information

News
Tue 20 Apr 2010, 22:20 BST
Issue No. 2198
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