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air STRIKE

Socialist Party bulletin for BA workers and trade union activists
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SOLID STRIKE
GROUNDS BA!
Stand firm for victory
A
fter months of fruitless reminiscent of an airplane graveyard in As well as this, the key issue is the
negotiations, four mass Arizona, from the Hatton Cross picket, demand of ‘no new fleet’. It is clear
meetings, one court injunction, we saw rows and rows of BA airplanes that Walsh sees unionised BA workers
a barrage of attacks from the press and sitting on the tarmac. as a barrier to the ‘race to the bottom’
the political establishment, including on terms and conditions that he want
the Labour Party, and unrelenting From the pickets an endless stream to carry out. Like the miners in the
bullying from management, British of cars, busses and trucks honked past and the PCS and RMT today,
Airways cabin crew walked out their horns in support of the strike cabin crew are portrayed as ‘strike
yesterday. The strike kicked off prompting excited cheers from cabin happy’ for defending their union and
with pickets and a rally attended by crew in return. The local trade union terms and conditions. In the 1980’s
workers, their family and other trade movement has also been doing Margaret Thatcher, saw the strongly
unionists their bit to get behind the strikes. At unionised miners and the NUM as
the picket line near the fire station, a block on her neo-liberal counter-
It is a testament to the resilience of ambulance workers came across to revolution. In the same fashion Walsh
cabin crew that despite the gruelling give pickets cups of tea and coffee. wants to break the union. Separating
trek to get to this point the mood was new starters from other staff is a key
buoyant. In near total darkness cabin This show of strength takes place in flank to this plan.
crew assembled in Bedfont football the face of a management regime of
club ground at 6AM to begin picketing severe bullying and intimidation over Confidence
duty. seen by Willie Walsh. In the run up to Many pickets we spoke to were in
the dispute, 36 trade union activists a confident mood. The decision of
Solid have been suspended and face transport unions around the world
Despite media reports to the contrary disciplinary action. ‘The prisoners’, as to offer solidarity has given union
the first day of strike action was solid. some strikers refer to them, should continued over...
On a number of picket lines empty be reinstated
staff buses drove about forlornly with i m m e d i a t e l y
only the occasional lonely manager to with all charges
keep the bus driver company. Reports dropped. This will
from workers inside Terminal 5 relayed be an important
back to reps on the pickets to say less demand that
than a handful of planes have taken UNITE negotiators
off so far. Whether there are actually will have to put to
any passengers or crew on them is Walsh when he is
an open question. At the last cabin forced back round
crew strike in the late 90s desperate the negotiating
management resorted to sending up table.
empty planes as a PR stunt. In scenes
air STRIKE
members a massive boost. One rep did
comment on the irony that solidarity
Cabin Crew in their own words
Socialist Party members visiting picket lines yesterday interviewed a number
action can be organised across the of strikers. The level of bullying and intimidation at BA is such that all these
globe but, under the anti trade union interviews are anonymous. We print one of these interviews below; to see
laws, is illegal in their own country. more, visit airstrikes.wordpress.com.
Others spoke of the importance of You’ve been on the pickets for two hours, what’s support from the Teamsters in America,
support from the wider trade union the mood like? ground colleagues in Australia, France,
movement and how after this dispute Fantastic, absolutely brilliant. Loads of Italy, American Airlines pilots have come
has reached its conclusion they empty crew busses. There’s another crew out in favour of us, Delta, across the world.
hope to be able to offer their support bus going past! Empty crew busses with So even if he managed to get a couple of
to workers in struggle; with PCS no scabs inside. planes away no jetties will come to those
members striking on 24th March and planes, no planes will be unloaded and I
the RMT due to announce strike dates You seem to be getting a lot of support from think we are working on the idea that what
in defence of jobs & rail safety, BA passing motorists. Do you think this is an answer goes up must come down but what comes
workers will soon have the opportunity to the media who’ve been saying you have no down does not necessarily have to come
to do this. support? up again. So the solidarity is fantastic.
It absolutely is! You can’t legislate for
This will prove vital in the coming what a right wing media will report. So One of the striking thing about this dispute is that
months and years – bosses across the Daily Mail version of events I’m sure the union has done a fantastic job organising
the country are watching this dispute. will be very different. The media I think solidarity right across the world but because of
A victory for Walsh would be seen as has turned round because it is very clear the anti trade union laws it’s quite difficult to
a green light to attack workers terms what this dispute is about and Walsh has organise it here.
and conditions in many other sectors. exposed himself. You know in one of his It’s here that is the most difficult place to
A victory for cabin crew, however, would fits of pique he even couldn’t contain organise any sort of solidarity, even where
be a huge boost to the confidence of saying that is was about smashing the the pickets can be.
other trade unionists – we don’t have union. He actually said it himself, which
to take attacks from the employer lying is what we’ve always known and any Do you think it’s a comment on New Labour
down; we can fight back and win! working person in this country must know that they haven’t changed the anti-trade union
that if British Airways can get away with laws?
Solidarity imposing, not negotiating, not achieving They haven’t changed any of the
Hopefully, Walsh will be shocked by anything by collective bargaining but Thatcherite laws! Absolutely! Its
the success of this weekends strike imposing something on a group of workers unbelievable how difficult it has been to
and be forced back to the negotiating then any employer will get away with organise anything, how the legal system
table with a fresh, improved offer. If, imposing anything on their employees has worked against us in this dispute
however Walsh continues with his and that’s why this is such an important but we are still here because eventually
hard man act, cabin crew will have the dispute. justice will win out.
confidence of a solid and lively action
behind them as they face into a further I know for example Unite have put out a call for It’s probably a moot question but are you
four days of strike. A clear call to other the trade union movement to mobilise behind it. confident you’re going to win?
trade unionists across London and I know the NUT have built for it. It does seem to Oh I am confident! I am absolutely
the UK to take part in a mass protest be a bit of a new era we’re in. confident and delighted because as I said
march in support of cabin crew and It’s massive because we’ve now got right will win in this dispute.
defence of trade union rights would
act as a focal point for the escalation • No to the “New Fleet”
of this struggle. It would send a clear • Reinstate the 36 ‘prisoners’ now – no to victimisation!
message to Walsh that cabin crew are • National and international trade union action to defeat BA
firm and the whole of the trade union
movement stands behind them. • Take BA back into public ownership
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