Striking cabin crew have squeezed their first concession out of intransigent British Airways (BA) bosses—and refuse to be conned back to work.
After their current walkout ends on 15 August, Unite union members in BA’s “mixed fleet” will have struck for 70 days.
Trying to bribe them back to work, management last week emailed workers offering to restore their staff travel privileges if strikes ended by Tuesday.
This would reinstate one perk that bosses stripped from strikers.
But in an email to members, Unite reps pointed out that strikers were still being denied their bonuses. And they still have a mandate to fight for a real pay rise.
Workers “should not be relying on a food bank or second jobs just to get through each month,” they wrote.
“Neither should we be suffering undue stress and depression due to the financial implications of working for a high profiting, premium flag carrier.”
BA last week announced a surge in half-yearly profits to £633 million.
It can easily afford a pay rise.
Yet there are pressures on Unite to back down. And some workers were worried when popular union official Matt Smith was promoted away from the dispute.
The Sun newspaper claimed his removal was a sop to bosses in the hope of getting a deal.
But it would be wrong to stop short of victory. One striker told Socialist Worker, “The tide is turning.
“BA’s share price has gone down—and this is the pivotal moment, the summer peak.”
Mixed fleet—crew hired since 2010 on much lower wages than existing workers—are a minority of BA’s cabin crew.
But the striker said, “One of the main weapons companies use against strikes is silence, so that we feel like we’re not making a difference and go back to work. And it’s bollocks.”
The strike is costing millions. Unite should quickly call further action.
And while a war of attrition alone may not deliver victory, the alternative is to escalate.
Unite could mobilise more workers to play an active role in the strike—and spread the fight to include the rest of BA’s workforce.