Socialist Worker

Reports round-up: Six days of strikes scheduled to hit British Airways

Issue No. 2539

Pickets at London Heathrow in January

Pickets at London Heathrow in January (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Cabin crew at British Airways (BA) were set to start six days of strikes on Sunday in their battle against poverty pay. The walkout was planned for the whole of next week except for Wednesday.

The Unite union members form BA’s “mixed fleet” set up in 2010 on much lower pay than its existing crew.

Unite regional officer Nicky Marcus is a former cabin crew rep sacked by BA.

She told Socialist Worker, “It should be a national scandal that a company making billions is paying safety-critical crew barely the minimum wage.

“There are crew sleeping in their cars or taking second and third jobs because they can’t make ends meet.”

BA is refusing to talk to the union and insists that five days of previous strikes have had no effect.

But it was forced to hire planes from other airlines to cover its routes. One of the firms used, Titan, charges £650,000 a flight.

Nicky said, “At one point three Titan aircraft flew over our picket line in ten minutes. That’s money that could have settled the dispute.

“And it’s doing real damage to the brand.”

Strike days have seen lively picket lines at sites around London Heathrow airport.

Nicky said, “The strike has had amazing support. It’s gathering momentum and we’re going to keep going.”

To send messages of support or donate to the strike fund go to bit.ly/2jotYQc


Benefit cuts killed in Kentish Town

Around 50 people held a vigil for Lawrence Bond in Kentish Town, central London, last Wednesday.

Lawrence died from a heart attack on his way home from the job centre after being found “fit for work.”

Film director Ken Loach joined the protest and compared the “monstrous injustice” to his film I, Daniel Blake.


Nominate Allinson for Unite election

Branches and workplaces in the Unite union have three weeks left to nominate candidates for the union’s general secretary election.

Rank and file candidate Ian Allinson had 23 nominations on Monday, out of 50 needed to get on the ballot paper.

Incumbent Len McCluskey’s connections in the union can get him large numbers—but right wing challenger Gerard Coyne is struggling.


Peace activists target fighter jets

Two peace campaigners have been released on bail after breaking into weapons giant BAE System’s site in Warton, Lancashire.

Daniel Woodhouse and Sam Walton attempted to disarm fighter jets due to be sent to Saudi Arabia for its brutal war on Yemen.

Woodhouse said, “We’re gutted that we couldn’t disarm a plane and stop it being used.”


Nuclear bosses attack pensions

Workers at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire struck for two days this week over pensions.

Bosses were set to close workers’ defined benefit pension scheme on Tuesday.

The Unite union said the deadline will not end the dispute.

Last week unions representing 16,000 nuclear decommissioning workers delayed a strike ballot on pension cuts after “constructive” talks with the government.


Still no justice over Marikana massacre

Campaigners picketed the annual general meeting of mining firm Lonmin in London last week over its continuing failures over the 2012 Marikana massacre in South Africa.

They demanded Lonmin admit the truth about the killing of miners, compensate families, fund a monument and raise living standards.

South African bishop Johannes Seoka told Socialist Worker, “We won’t stop until justice is achieved.”


Coming actions at cinemas in London

Workers at branches of cinema chain Picturehouse in London were expected to deliver a new vote to strike in a ballot closing on Wednesday.

Their union Bectu had decided to re-ballot after bosses launched a legal challenge to the initial ballot.

The delay meant workers at Crouch End could join the fight for a wage of £9.75 an hour, alongside those at Hackney, Brixton and central London branches.


Crunch time in the EHRC layoffs row

Workers at the Equality and Human Rights Commission are set to get compulsory redundancy notices next week after the Cabinet Office approved plans to slash its workforce.

The PCS union has already held five strikes against the plans—and officials have said they will continue fighting. An escalation of strikes could force bosses to withdraw the redundancies.


Fracking fights across the North

Legal challenges to fracking in Lancashire will be heard in Manchester, a judge has ruled. The Tories wanted the hearing to be in London.

It could become a focus for protest. Direct action continues to disrupt Cuadrilla’s building of a fracking rig near Blackpool.

A protest against fracking was planned in Marsh Lane in Derbyshire on Tuesday.

And a rally was set to take place on Saturday at the anti-fracking camp in Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire.


Camelot is under siege by ‘tenants’

Two property guardians in Bristol are taking property developer Camelot to court so it can’t kick them straight out of their homes.

The guardians live in and look after a former nursing home up for redevelopment.

The case could mean guardians get the same rights as tenants. At present they can be evicted at just two weeks’ notice.


Housing campaign continues fightback

The Thurlow Lodge campaign to keep the south London estate community hall in the control of ordinary people continues.

Campaigners insist that the council recognises the Wendover House Tenants and Residents Association (TRA).

The TRA should have the final say in what happens to the hall. The next TRA meeting is set for 11 February.

For updates go to facebook.com/southwarkdch

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