BA has moved closer to a merger with Spanish national carrier Iberia after striking a deal with its pension trustees to ‘neutralise’ its pensions deficit of £3.7 billion.
It was able to do this after the trade unions, including Unite, agreed to an increase in pension contributions to narrow the deficit.
The new company is to be called International Airlines Group. BA CEO Willie Walsh hopes to get it off to a good start for the bosses by destroying the Unite trade union in the course of the battle that is going on at Heathrow.
Despite Unite giving BA all of the financial concessions that it wanted, BA intends to fight on until it has destroyed BASSA, the cabin crew section of Unite, and driven the Unite trade union out of Heathrow.
Unite has responded to this provocative conduct by announcing a new strike ballot of members to begin next Tuesday 29th.
Unite said this is because of ‘British Airways failure to respect its collective agreements by using employees from other work areas within the company to operate as cabin crew on world-wide and Eurofleet routes on reduced terms. This, along with the introduction of temporary cabin crew on terms and conditions which are contrary to those agreed within the world-wide and Eurofleet agreements, is considered totally unacceptable by Unite.’
It is also because of the ‘removal of travel assistance from crew who exercised their right to participate in lawful strike action.’
Also ‘Unite considers the disciplinary action taken against dozens of members for various misdemeanours related to the current industrial dispute as again vindictive, disproportionate and unnecessary. The union is therefore seeking the withdrawal of all disciplinary measures administered to Unite members.’
Brian Boyd, Unite national officer for civil aviation, has brought attention to the fact that this is not a trade dispute.
He said: ‘The cost to the company’s reputation, the £154 million that by its own admission it has lost as a result of taking on its employees, and the fact that it has already imposed the substantive items of change it needed to save £60 million begs the question; what is the company attempting to achieve?’
He has appealed to BA: ‘Do not seek conflict. Drop the tough talk and work with us to deliver the change needed for the future and preserve the standards associated with this great airline.’
BA has responded to this appeal by announcing a recruitment drive for 1,250 new cabin crew this year, to act as strike breakers. Total earnings for new crew will be £7,500 less on short haul routes and up to £17,000 less for long haul routes.
This is clearly the organisation of strike breaking and the busting up of trade union rates of pay and conditions on a massive scale.
This is clearly a threat to every BA worker at Heathrow and a direct threat to the Unite trade union.
As well, employers all over the country will be watching to see whether the strike breaking succeeds, and if it does, a great employers’ offensive will begin to drive the working class back to the conditions brought about by the Great Depression in the 1930’s.
This is clearly a matter for every BA worker, every Unite member and every trade unionist in the country.
The essence of the matter is that this struggle must be won and every action necessary to win it must be taken.
The whole of Heathrow must be brought out with the BA cabin crew, so that the biggest airport in the world is brought to a complete standstill.
If a single worker is sacked or victimised then the whole trade union movement must stop work, regardless of the anti-union laws that must be binned for all time.
This is the only way to win the struggle. Trade union leaders who put obeying the anti-union laws before defending the interests of their members must be forced to resign and be replaced.