Socialist Worker

Walsh is reason for talks failure

Issue No. 2203

THE MEDIA and some trade union leaders have blamed a protest involving Socialist Workers Party members for the collapse of Acas conciliation service talks between British Airways and the Unite union last Saturday.

It is as ridiculous to pretend that the protesters ended the talks as it is to blame the Twitter messages from Unite joint general secretary Derek Simpson.

It is even more ridiculous to imply—as papers such as the Mail on Sunday did— that it was Simpson’s messages that “called in” the protest.

The only person responsible for the collapse of the talks was BA boss Willie Walsh. His determination to screw every last penny from cabin crew and to break the Bassa section of Unite made an agreement impossible.

A group of 200 or so people marched to the central London building where Walsh was last Saturday.

About 100 went into the building while the rest protested outside in support of the cabin crew.

The group who entered the building made their way to an upper floor where they surrounded Walsh and chanted slogans at him for a few minutes.

Tony Woodley, the joint general secretary of Unite, and Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the TUC, were in a room on the floor above.

They came down and argued with the protesters to leave—which they did.

The target of the protest was Walsh. There was never any intention of stopping the talks and the protest did not break them up.

A statement from Unite’s Bassa section said, “despite widely reported distractions that occurred at Acas, in reality these had little effect on the outcome of these talks”.

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Tue 25 May 2010, 18:07 BST
Issue No. 2203
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