Socialist Worker

Willie Walsh’s rotten British Airways deal

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2200

Cabin crew at British Airways (BA) are balloting on a new offer from boss Willie Walsh. They should throw it out.

It does not resolve two fundamental sticking points – disciplinaries and the removal of staff travel discounts.

BA is also refusing to back down on the issues that sparked the dispute – job cuts, attacks on terms, conditions and the union, and the introduction of a new fleet of workers on lower pay and worse conditions.

The Unite union, and its cabin crew section, Bassa, are recommending that workers reject it.

Some of the worst aspects of Walsh’s offer are:

  • No guarantee to reinstate over 50 cabin crew who have been suspended
  • No guarantee to reinstate staff travel discounts for all workers. Walsh will “give consideration” to this demand if workers meet his conditions
  • The removal of seniority – where workers receive higher discounts based on length of service – if staff travel discounts are reinstated
  • Implementation of the new fleet
  • No reinstatement for workers who were cut from cabin crews in November
  • An “industrial relations review” which will threaten all existing cabin crew agreements. Walsh wants “radical change” to company and trade union relations
  • Renegotiation of trade union organisation – including time off for union activities – and new redeployment, disciplinary, grievance and absence policies

The offer reveals Walsh’s real intentions – to break union organisation and give bosses free rein to savage terms and conditions.

The attack on staff travel will set a dangerous precedent for other BA workers.

It is good that Unite is strongly recommending that workers reject the offer.

But many workers want the union to name further strike dates, rather than waste time balloting on such a lousy offer.

They know that the Unite leadership’s ties to the Labour Party are hampering the fight against Walsh.

Workers need to organise to win the biggest possible no vote.

But they should also demand a mass meeting that can hold union leaders to account and fight for a hard‑hitting strike.

The ballot ends on Friday 7 May. Watch this site for updates

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Article information

Tue 4 May 2010, 18:46 BST
Issue No. 2200
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