A week of strikes against poverty pay by British Airways cabin crew began today, Sunday. On the picket line at London Heathrow airport, Unite union rep Gareth Theobald told Socialist Worker, "The airport is empty. Someone just came and told us the crew bus is empty, the CRC where crew would normally be is empty.
"BA say the strike has no effect, but there's clearly disruption and they are having to charter planes from other airlines to cover their routes."
The dispute involves around 3,000 Unite members in BA's "mixed fleet" section, set up in 2010 on much lower pay than existing crew.
The wages workers are promised when they start include benefits and bonuses many rarely see—and that bosses have now docked further to punish them for striking.
Strikers' staff travel discount was cut for 12 months last week. But Gareth said these tactics were making workers "more defiant" as the dispute goes on.
"The company keeps coming back with threats, and people are seeing through it as they see the effect we are having."
Workers struck for five days in two walkouts last month. Now they are striking for six days in one week—every day except Wednesday.
Charlie Bacon told Socialist Worker she was "anxious and excited at the same time" about the escalation.
"Striking is exhausting, but it's also inspiring," she said. "The longer we get on the more support we get as people become aware of what we're fighting for. I even saw a website where BA 'Gold Card' travellers were saying it's disgusting the way BA treats us."
The longer walkout will also test the figures for turnout, Charlie explained. Bosses claim that 70 percent of workers are not striking. But this includes those whose irregular work rosters mean they aren't working on strike days - many of whom still turn out to picket.
"Going out for longer means more people can join the action, and then we'll see the real figure," she said. "We're a small fleet but going out will bring home to BA how much it needs us."