Socialist Worker

New British Airways ballot after long delays

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2233

Cabin crew at British Airways (BA) are again balloting for strikes.

They have so far taken 22 days of strikes against imposed job cuts and attacks on terms and conditions by bullying boss Willie Walsh.

The BA strikes were inspiring. Picketing workers showed a fantastic spirit and won widespread support from the public and other trade unionists.

Fresh strikes against one of Britain’s most ruthless bosses would show workers everywhere that it’s possible to fight. The new ballot is long overdue and workers must organise urgently to win the biggest possible yes vote.

Unfortunately there are some problems. The workers’ Unite union has abandoned the original fight to restore jobs.

The ballot is over five issues: restoration of staff travel concessions, restoration of docked pay for crew who were sick on strike days, “full and proper discussion” of the union facilities agreement, no new mixed fleet on different terms and conditions “without the agreement of the trade union”, and binding arbitration through Acas of all disciplinary cases related to the original dispute.

The union should be fighting for the lifting of all disciplinaries—not leaving it up to Acas.

It should also unequivocally oppose Walsh’s new mixed fleet—which includes draconian terms and conditions, and a basic salary of just £11,000.

While allowing for union recognition, mixed fleet contracts state that “no other collective agreements in force at the date of this contract apply to you unless you are expressly told otherwise in writing by the company”.

However, a strong vote for strikes would allow for a new fight to begin against Walsh and would also boost workers’ confidence to demand more.

Crew are set to hold a mass meeting on Monday of next week

They should insist their union leaders throw all their resources into building the yes vote. The ballot ends on 21 January.

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Tue 4 Jan 2011, 17:30 GMT
Issue No. 2233
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