BRITISH Airways has just announced a loss before tax of £401m for the year to 31 March, a collapse from a profit of £922m for the previous year.
Chief executive Walsh blamed the collapsing pound and higher fuel costs for the disaster and said that he saw ‘no signs of recovery anywhere’ as he blamed a fuel bill of £3bn.
Fuel costs rose 44.5%. BA said it has cut more than 2,500 jobs since last summer but added that it was in talks with unions about ‘pay and productivity changes’.
‘The prolonged nature of the global downturn makes this the harshest trading environment we have ever faced and, with no immediate improvement visible, market conditions remain challenging,’ Walsh said.
BA is now hovering on the brink of collapse, with Walsh’s appeal for workers to take unpaid leave or agree to short-time working preparing the way for massive redundancies.
Clearly BA must be renationalised to safeguard the jobs, wages and conditions of its tens of thousands of workers.
Workers must insist that they will not agree to the kind of wage cuts that the Unite trade union leaders have just forced through at Honda in Swindon, and that they will not agree to the short-time working that both Unite and the TUC are supporting.
This is a capitalist slump, the greatest in its history. Things are not going to gradually get better. Capitalism has got to be got rid of, and to prepare the way for this, the trade unions must insist that there will be no pay or jobs cuts and that BA must be nationalised.
In fact, BA is just one of the many industries that are being destroyed by the capitalist crisis.
Car production is down a gigantic 55.3% for the year to April.
Overall vehicle production – including commercial vehicles – fell 56.5% to 75, 913 in April.
Commercial vehicle production fell by 65.2% to 7,655 in April, with the year-to-date production down 63.6% at 29,950 vehicles.
The car sector has been one of the hardest hit by the global slump, as consumers cut back, and global car companies such as GM and Chrysler are headed for bankruptcy, and mass sackings.
GM in the US has already shown its hand. Having got billions of dollars from Obama, and massive concessions from the UAW auto workers union, it has announced that it wants the presidency to agree that it can build new plants in China and import cars into the US from there!
This policy will mean the sack for hundreds of thousands more US car workers!
In the UK a similar process is under way. Immediately the GM Vauxhall plants are under threat of closure, since on June 1 GM Detroit is going to cut them off without a penny.
Workers must not accept the advice of union leaders, who are advocating the wage cuts and job cuts that the bosses want, as the only way to avoid the complete shut down of the UK motor car industry.
All that will happen is that the bosses will use the union leaders, who are acting like personnel managers for the bosses, to get what they can out of workers before they close the plants, probably as at Visteon, with 10 minutes notice.
We repeat that capitalism is destroying the productive forces including its most important part, the working class.
This is why plants such as GM Vauxhall must be occupied to stop mass sackings and the threat of closure.
This is why the entire working class must be brought into action to fight for the nationalisation of GM Vauxhall, under workers control, along with all of the motor car plants that are facing the threat of mass sackings and closure.
Union leaders who will not fight for these socialist policies must be sacked and be replaced by those leaders who will. There is no other way forward for workers.