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Socialist Party bulletin for BA workers and trade union activists

oday’s strike by British Airways
cabin crew is one of the most
significant industrial disputes
in recent years. It follows an upturn
in industrial action since the onset
of the economic crisis at the end of

In that time we have seen factory

occupations by workers at the
Visteon car components plants
against job losses and stolen
redundancy payments, unofficial
action at the Lindsey oil refinery
to defeat attacks on union terms
and conditions, walk outs at a smash union organisation in the BA cabin crew members will be to
Linamar car plant in Swansea which largest private sector branch in the defeat these attacks and defend
successfully opposed an attempt to country. their union. However the severity of
sack the union convenor and the the assault by the employer and the
partially successful nationwide strike What other conclusion can be drawn prominence of this dispute mean
of postal workers. after watching the behaviour of this is now a fight that concerns the
BA over the last few months? The whole of the trade union movement
All these disputes share something in purpose behind BA’s plan to rip in Britain. If BA is able to get away
common with the fight of cabin crew up existing contracts and install a with their behaviour it will act as a
today. The agenda of the employers separate “New Fleet” on inferior green light for every employer up
in each case was to drive down the terms and conditions is clearly a and down the country to open up a
terms and conditions of staff through ploy to isolate new starters, from the campaign of union busting. Today’s
attacking union organisation. “bad influence” of a well organised demonstration called by Unite is
union branch and so prevent their an excellent first step in building
Union Busting recruitment into the union. A reign support and solidarity from the
of terror has been opened up on rest of the trade union movement.
The significance of today’s dispute union activists with a number of reps Hopefully this can be developed
lies in the blatant attempt by a already on suspension. Now Willie into bringing the whole of the trade
bullying employer, egged on by Walsh is threatening to sack the bulk union movement in Britain to deliver
most of the media and the political of leading union activists. practical support for cabin crew. In
establishment (including shamefully, this context questions must be asked
New Labour, see back page) to Quite rightly the main concern of about the role of the TUC.
continued inside...
...continued from front
Rather than facilitating talks with team headed by Willie Walsh that
an employer who is clearly not brought about such fiascos as the
interested in coming to any sort opening of Terminal 5, the massive
of reasonable compromise, would fines as a result of price fixing,
its resources not be better spent the misjudgement of fuel prices
mobilising support amongst trade is quite simply not up to the job.
unions in Britain to defeat BA? And yet in a complete inversion of
reality it is not the management of
Transport unions across the world the company who are blamed for
clearly recognise the need for the company losing money, but the
practical support to be given to workforce!
cabin crew. This may prove crucial
in this dispute. Thanks to the New We do not accept that BA is in
Labour supported anti-trade union the kind of financial difficulties
laws it is easier for the union to that have beset carriers like JAL.
organise solidarity action with BA’s recent merger with Iberia
workers in Sydney than staff in the gives the lie to the idea that BA
same workplace as cabin crew. No is on the point of going bust. But
serious union supporter should take why should all the experience and
the anti trade union laws lightly but skills that have been accumulated
faced with an employer determined by BA staff be allowed to simply
to smash union organisation, all disappear because of the vagaries
options should be on the table. of the market and short sighted rapidly gaining the reputation as a
The Lindsey dispute showed that management? In the case of the hard nosed employer running an
in the face of determined and well banks the government was only too industrial dictatorship.
organised solidarity action the anti happy to step in and clean up the
trade union laws can be exposed mess made by market madness • No to the “New Fleet”
as a paper tiger. and incompetent management. BA • End the victimisations
should be taken back into public • National and international
We Won’t Pay For The Crisis ownership. After all it was under trade union action to defeat BA
public ownership BA gained the • Take BA back into public
The economic crisis has hit the reputation as ‘the world favourite ownership
airline industry particularly hard. BA airline’. Now in private hands it is
is now using this crisis as a means
to bludgeon staff into accepting
worse terms and conditions. This What is airSTRIKE?
is a tactic that is being used right airSTRIKE is a blog which was set up by Socialist Party members who
across the country and indeed are trade union activists in UNITE and other unions which organise at
all around the world. But why British Airways. It was set up to promote the issues affecting workers
should it be workers who have to at BA, attempt to cut across some of the slanderous comments made
take cuts in their living standards about BA workers by the establishment press and offer a forumn for
when they had no hand or act in discussion about what tactics are needed to move forward and win
bringing about this crisis? In the disputes at BA.
specific case of BA the question Please visit the blog and join in the discussion at airstrikes.
must be asked, ‘where have all the
mega profits BA was making up to There will be updates and reports added to the blog direct from the
2007 gone?’ It is the management picket lines this weekend, so make sure you check it out.

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Message of support from
Joe Higgins, Socialist Party MEP
18 March

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Dear F r ie n d s
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g u s m anagemen te r m s a n d conditio lines the correctn is just one of many
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cuts of th io n to fight BA’s d a r it y a ction to b the Socialist Party
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BA fligh f a c to r in winnin in th e media an for a Workers’
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will be a d e m n th e campaig ou over the last International (CWI).
ke to con y
w o u ld li li s h m e n t against To see more
I also p o li ti cal estab messages of support
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amongst e e k s a n d days. c ti c a l o r political visit airstrikes.
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th e S o c ia list Party
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If I or
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assistance d a r it y , www.socialistworld.
contact. In soli net.
in s
Joe Higg ty M E P
Join the Socialists!
The Socialist Party has a long and proud record of struggling to defend working-class people. We are involved in many
campaigns throughout the UK. We support workers in industrial disputes. Socialist Party members played leading roles
in important disputes in 2009, such as the successful Lindsey Oil Refinery strike in Yorkshire, the Visteon struggle in
London and Belfast, and the dispute at Swansea Linamar car parts plant. We fight against student tuition fees and against
privatisation of our services. We campaign for better pay, to stop council house sell-offs and for free education. We campaign
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of the Campaign for a New Workers’ Party, fighting for a mass party that can draw together socialists, trade unionists,
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With ‘friends’ like these...
UNITE and the Labour Party
abour peer Lord Adonis New Labour essentially siding
disgracefully stated earlier inwith Walsh is disgusting – but it
the week that BA cabin crew should come as no surprise from
striking was “completely unjustified”a government who over the last
– Adonis is more than just ‘badly thirteen years have sided with the
informed’, as some at the top of employer in every major industrial
UNITE claimed. He is an unelected dispute; a government who have
millionaire peer whose interests kept and extended Thatcher’s anti-
are diametrically opposed to ours. trade union laws, which were used
It really tells you something that to block cabin crew strikes after the members who face hundreds of
he feels so at home in the Labour first ballot; a government who dare thousands of job cuts in a ‘bonfire
Party! to warn trade unionists not to ‘rock of services’; and many more, are all
the boat’ while they do all they can asking the question, why are we still
Gordon Brown followed this up to undermine us. tied to New Labour?
with the outrageous claim that the
strike was “deplorable”! This from Some BASSA members are already On the Socialist Party’s part, we
creatures whose party is bankrolled looking into how they can withhold the have consistently called for the link
by our union, UNITE, to the tune of Labour Party contribution from their with New Labour to be broken – it is
£11million over the last four years! union subs. A clear message should an out-and-out party of big business
The Tories attempt to portray the be put out from UNITEs leadership to now. But working-class people do
Labour Party as under the unions’ the Labour Party – use it or lose it! need a political voice; our money
thumb, with UNITE pulling the If you don’t come out and back us would be better spent backing trade
strings, will have been dismissed unequivocally – as workers across union candidates that stand in
as laughable by millions of ordinary Britain and trade unions across the our interest, as a step towards the
trade unionists. Many wonder why globe are – then the cheques are development of a new mass party
good money after bad still keeps going to stop coming! We are no that can genuinely represent us.
flowing into the coffers of a party longer willing to fund a party that We feel that the Trade Unionist and
more interested in protecting ceased to represent us years ago. Socialist Coalition (see box below) is
bankers’ bonuses than the jobs, This is part of a wider debate that is an important step in this direction
wages and conditions of the people taking place across the trade union and would urge BA workers sickened
that pay their bills. movement; CWU members who by how New Labour have treated
fought to defend jobs, conditions and them to throw their support behind
trade union rights last year; UNISON this important electoral challenge.
Trade Unionist and
Socialist Coalition
General Election Launch Rally
Thursday 25 March, 7.30pm Friends Meeting House,
Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ
Speakers include:
Bob Crow the railway workers’ union (RMT) general secretary; Brian Caton the prison officers’ association (POA)
general secretary; Chris Baugh the civil servants’ union (PCS) assistant general secretary; Dave Nellist Socialist
Party councillor
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will be contesting seats in the coming general election on a clear anti-
cuts and socialist programme. Founding supporters include Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, Brian Caton,
general secretary of the POA, Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the PCS, and other leading officers of
the PCS, all in a personal capacity. All three establishment parties agree that it is working people who must pay
the price of the economic crisis. We do not accept this and supporters of the coalition are determined to offer the
widest possible working-class challenge in the coming general election.
Printed and Promoted by the Socialist Party, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD