Socialist Worker

BA bosses’ blackmail fails to weaken cabin crew strike

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2542

Waving the flag of resistance outside Heathrow airport

Waving the flag of resistance outside Heathrow airport (Pic: Socialist Worker)


British Airways (BA) cabin crew walked out for four days from last Friday—and were set to launch a new four-day strike on Wednesday.

The Unite union members, who work on BA’s “mixed fleet”, will have taken more than 20 strike days in their fight against poverty pay.

One Unite rep told Socialist Worker, “The strike keeps growing.

“We’re having people join the union, or tell us it’s the first time their roster has allowed them to properly take part in the strike.”

Bosses are responding with bluster and blackmail. The rep explained, “The company is taking away more bonuses, and they’ve stopped strikers’ travel discount for two years.”

So much of their pay package is made up of these “extras” that BA has now taken away from strikers, workers believe bosses may be breaking the minimum wage law.

But it hasn’t deterred them. The rep said, “They’ve now said that people who go back to work will have all their staff travel discount restored because they’re trying to bribe people back to work.

“But people are saying it sounds like desperation.”

The mixed fleet crew’s determination has had an impact.

Resentment 

As bosses farm more flights out to other airlines during strikes, costs and passengers’ resentment are growing.

The workers are right to go for longer strikes as it lets more people take part.

If workers are already on a flight when a walkout starts they can’t join it.

But mixed fleet is a relatively small part of BA’s cabin crew. It is made up of workers hired since 2010 on much lower terms and conditions than other “legacy” fleets.

There is a lot of support for mixed fleet strikers among the other fleets.

Unite has set up a strike food bank for workers with donations from other fleets.

But the best support would be to take action themselves.

Unite should seek to initiate a wider dispute. One fleet alone has hit bosses hard—together they could win.

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