Socialist Worker

BA cabin crew demand fresh strike ballot

Issue No. 2212

Cabin crew at British Airways (BA) last week threw out a “final offer” from bullying boss Willie Walsh by more than three to one.

The offer was an attempt to bribe workers to accept attacks and cabin crew were right to reject it.

Workers are waiting for their Unite union to call a fresh ballot for strikes. But the union leadership is dithering and calling for more talks with a ruthless boss out to smash the union.

Some union officials may blame a “low” turnout in the ballot on BA’s final offer for not calling further action.

The turnout was around 45 percent—which is lower than in previous ballots of BA cabin crew. But Unite’s leadership has to take some responsibility for this.

It has not used the union’s full strength to fight Walsh.

The vote was a clear rejection of the offer and, compared to votes in other unions, the turnout is high—in spite of the intimidation that workers have endured.

Unite needs to step up the fight. Around 6,000 workers at the BAA airport operator began ballots for strikes last week. They could strike in August—and shut down major airports including Heathrow.

If cabin crew struck alongside them, they could win their dispute within hours.

Cabin crew are calling for an emergency general meeting and a new strike ballot. Some have begun a petition for this on their union web forum.

If Unite called a fresh ballot and campaigned hard to win it, it would get an overwhelming vote for action.

Workers want to fight. The latest figures from Unite show that 74 percent of workers claimed strike pay from their last action—undermining BA’s propaganda that most workers didn’t support the strikes.

If Unite refuses to call a meeting, workers should organise one. Cabin crew need to put pressure on those at the top of the union to force them to call action.

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Article information

Tue 27 Jul 2010, 17:54 BST
Issue No. 2212
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