Stop BA & Stop Baa Airports, To Win Cabin Crew Struggle!

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BA cabin crew yesterday rejected the latest offer from BA with a massive 67 per cent voting to throw out by 3,419 votes to 1,686, BA’s offer of a below inflation 2.9 per cent ‘pay rise’ next year with a below inflation 3 per cent the year after.

At the same time as they were rejecting BA’s ‘offer’, cabin crew were lodging 75 cases at the Reading Employment Tribunal charging BA with racism, after it withdrew the travel facilities of cabin crew who live in Scotland and Ireland and outside the UK, and cannot make it to work unless they have that facility.

Last week BA sacked its second BASSA trade union official, Mark Everard, a 48-year-old cabin service director. It is victimising dozens more in a display of hostility that has not been seen since Margaret Thatcher’s attack on the miners, which saw scores of miners jailed.

Already the cabin crew have had two of their strike ballots declared illegal, and at the same time have seen the very timid Unite leadership publicly sue for peace outside the BA AGM. It was there that National Officer Brendan Gold, (who presided over the Gate Gourmet débâcle) said that even if today’s ballot result was in favour of continuing the action, Unite would not necessarily call a strike ballot.

But the cabin crew are indomitable. They refuse to be beaten and are determined to win, whatever it takes, and they have the support of the working class to do so, and not just in this country.

At the BA AGM, while the cabin crew took Walsh to task from inside the shareholders meeting, outside, workers from Iberia and from French airlines said that they had come all the way to London to support the cabin crew.

Their message was that if the BA cabin crew were beaten, they would be next in line – at Iberia and elsewhere – for what they called the ‘Anglo-Saxon model of confrontation’.

The BAA workers are also moving into struggle.

Unite gave BAA seven day’s notice on Friday, July 16 2010, of its intention to hold a strike ballot over their pay dispute. 6,185 engineers, firefighters and members of security and support staff will be balloted at BAA airports including Heathrow, Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

The union says that BAA are offering staff a one per cent pay increase plus a 0.5 per cent increase that is subject to changes to the sickness agreement. An offer that even Brendan Gold has labelled as ‘paltry’. He commented ‘Unite and BAA have been in talks for months and we are prepared to continue talking. A negotiated agreement can be reached if the company is prepared to be fairer and more realistic.’

The strike ballot will open on Friday, July 23 and will close on August 12. It’s pretty obvious that the BA cabin crew must stop at the same time as the BAA workers with the aim of stopping all of the main airports in the country and bringing air travel to a complete halt.

Walsh and BA can be expected to reply to such an action in the most belligerent way that they can muster. Unite, the biggest union in the country, must prepare for this eventuality.

It must approach all of the main trade unions and the General Council of the TUC. It must demand a special meeting of the General Council before the September Congress to hammer out an agreement that if Walsh and/or BAA move to take action to sack or otherwise penalise the BAA workers and the BA cabin crew, the TUC will call a general strike, and bring all TUC trade unions out to win this struggle and also to serve notice on the Cameron coalition that its game is up, and that it will be put out of office.

This is the way forward to win the BA and BAA struggles.