Socialist Worker

Unite delays strikes at British Airways - again

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2248

The Unite union will not call strikes at British Airways (BA) this month, it has announced. It has agreed to continue talks with BA bosses instead.

The deadline for Unite to name strike dates, before its recent ballot of cabin crew would have become invalid, was looming.

So BA has agreed a 28-day extension in the time that Unite has to call strike dates, so they can continue talks.

Talks of one form or another have been going on for years. But the sacked cabin crew remain sacked. BA continues to sack even more.

Its new “mixed fleet” is up and running, creating a two-tier workforce and threatening to drive pay and conditions down across the board.

And the arrival of a new boss has changed little. BA launched a fresh attack on the rights of pregnant cabin crew just last month.

Talks have stopped none of this. Cabin crew have made clear their demands in five ballots for strikes. If BA won’t accept these demands, Unite should call strikes now.

The last round of strikes at BA showed the power cabin crew have. There’s a huge danger that union leaders will squander this potential.


The union’s leadership has already watered down the original demands of the workers. Gone is any reference to the job cuts that previous boss Willie Walsh imposed without agreement in November 2009.

Now Unite demands only a “binding independent review of disciplinaries” and “measures to address concerns” about the pay and conditions of mixed fleet workers.

It should demand the reinstatement of sacked and disciplined workers and no two-tier workforce.

Unite calls for restoration of crew’s staff travel concessions—but only “on implementation of the settlement including a new working relationship with the local representatives”.

The removal of staff travel concessions was nothing but a vindictive attack on strikers.

Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, promised that he would listen to crew.

Those words are starting to sound hollow. Unite should be throwing its full weight behind the cabin crew. It will be a disgrace if it fails to do so.

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Article information

Tue 19 Apr 2011, 17:53 BST
Issue No. 2248
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