Socialist Worker

British Airways cabin crew accept deal

Issue No. 2258

Cabin crew at British Airways (BA) have accepted a deal to end their long-running dispute.

Some 92 percent backed the deal agreed by their Unite union and BA.

Crew had been in dispute over attacks on their jobs, terms and conditions. BA imposed 1,700 full time job cuts in 2009.

Crew put up an outstanding fight. Their 22 days of strikes had a clear impact on the company. Many will rightly be pleased that they are still standing while their former bullying boss Willie Walsh has left the company.

Reps in both Unite and Bassa, the cabin crew section of Unite, recommended a yes vote. Socialist Worker argued against the deal. It does not reverse the job cuts. It also leaves in place BA’s “mixed fleet”—crew employed on lower pay and worse conditions, with a separate negotiating body.

And the deal allows workers from other departments to cover cabin crew work in the event of strikes. Some are very worried about mixed fleet. They are also unhappy that the deal doesn’t resolve the issue of crew who have been sacked and suspended during the dispute.

Sadly Unite has agreed not to support any crew taking an employment tribunal or any legal action against BA relating to the dispute.

It’s not surprising after such a long and bitter dispute that many crew feel they couldn’t have won more, as Unite refused to call more action despite repeated strike votes.

Cabin crew showed workers everywhere that it’s possible to resist. And every striker will be proud that BA couldn’t simply impose attacks.

BA may try to use one of its many get-out clauses in the deal or launch a fresh attack on crew. If it does, crew should remember the power that their strikes had—and demand that Unite launches a fightback that can win.

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Tue 28 Jun 2011, 17:57 BST
Issue No. 2258
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