THE LEADER of the Unite trade union, Len McCluskey, said on Monday that the deal offered to British Airways’ pilots would be acceptable to tens of thousands of Unite crew and staff members currently threatened with drastic ‘fire and rehire’ proposals by BA’s chief Willie Walsh.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, McCluskey accused BA of ‘industrial thuggery’. He also volunteered – without the permission of the tens of thousands of Unite members who are being threatened with either being forced to sign inferior contracts or dismissal altogether – ‘I will accept the pilots’ deal, but we are not being offered it.’
McCluskey is desperate to agree ‘surrender terms’, but, once again, does not have the authority to accept the Balpa pilots’ union sell-out deal on behalf of his own members.
In fact, while he and the Unite leadership have been running away from the fight, 42,000 Unite members face a situation today where Walsh is proceeding with his plan to rip up 42,000 BA workers’ contracts.
The 42,000 have been invited by Walsh to apply for voluntary redundancy by today (Wednesday 5th August). Those who do not apply are to be taken as willing to accept new contracts from September 1st!
Instead of rejecting this threat to his 42,000 members and calling mass actions, McCluskey is seeking the adoption of the pilots’ deal – which in itself is an atrocious sell out!
It brings in a ‘temporary’ 20% pay cut reducing to 8% over two years and towards zero over the longer term. On top of that there will be compulsory redundancies which are currently estimated to be 270 British Airways employs 4,300 pilots.
Commenting after the Today programme, McCluskey sought to boost the BA deal with Balpa! He said: ‘The reality is that the pilots were never faced with the drastic “fire and rehire” strategy that is being imposed on the overwhelming majority of the BA workforce.’
McCluskey repeated: ‘BA is indulging in industrial thuggery. It should and could end this strife now. I say to Willie Walsh, put the deal that you have agreed with pilots to the rest of the staff, and in doing so join with us as together we find a constructive and fair way through this crisis.’
McCluskey is willing to accept wage and job cuts for BA workers and accept a deal that will see his members’ wages cut and jobs sacrificed on the alter of profit. This is despite Walsh’s warning delivered in the Daily Telegraph that ‘There is no point in looking back at the way BA was. Because we’re never going back to that environment.’
The Unite leadership must now take action to remove McCluskey from office for dereliction of duty, and must immediately vote for strike action by the entire union to secure the nationalisation of BA and the defence of the wages and jobs of every single BA worker.
The union must tell the Labour Party, for which it has provided millions in finances, that unless it supports the airport workers threatened with mass sackings and wage cuts, and adopts a policy for the nationalisation of BA, it will immediately stop funding the Labour Party.
The Unite trade union must demand the active support of all of the TUC’s affiliated members to organise general strike action to stop the mass sackings and the wage cutting.
Unite must take the lead in establishing Councils of Action, made up of all trade unions and community organisations, to mobilise millions to defend the jobs of up to 100,000 airport workers who are threatened with mass sackings and wage cuts all over the country.
Such a campaign must be developed to bring down the Johnson government and to bring in a workers government that will nationalise not just the airports and the big air companies such as BA, but will nationalise the banks and the major industries bringing in a nationalised and planned economy under workers’ management.
This is the only response to a capitalist crisis that is developing into the biggest crash since the 1930s. The bosses are seeking – and have begun – to unload this crisis onto the backs of the working class.
Now is the time to build the WRP into the revolutionary leadership of the working class that will make the bosses pay for the crisis by expropriating them and by bringing in a socialist planned economy.