Unite Leader Graham Condemns Lammy For Refusing To Support BA Striking Workers

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THE leader of the Unite trade union has hit back at comments by David Lammy MP, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, on Sunday, that he would not support Unite’s members at British Airways who are fighting to restore the 10 per cent cut from their pay made by the airline during the pandemic.

Sharon Graham, Unite’s General Secretary, said: ‘David Lammy has chosen to launch a direct attack on British Airways workers. This is a group of workers who were savagely attacked by their employer during Covid. “Fire and rehire” led to thousands of unnecessary job cuts and pay being slashed.

‘This dispute is not about a pay rise – it’s about restoring money taken out of workers’ pockets by an opportunistic employer. British Airways and its parent company IAG hold billions in reserves and assets, and are predicting a return to profit this quarter.’

In fact, the Labour leadership is split over workers taking strike action for wage rises in a period where rampant inflation has savagely cut the value of wage packets and workers have no alternative but to strike.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer is consistent. He refused to support the £15 an hour minimum wage resolution at the Labour Party conference, and, currently, he opposes Labour MPs taking part in RMT picket lines! He instructed Labour MPs they must not join RMT pickets! However, 25 Labour MPs did take part in the picket lines!

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lammy has struck the most hardline anti-strike stance of any Labour MP yet, publicly supporting Starmer by saying that he does not support the strikes because they ‘hurt’ working people.

He told Times Radio: ‘This is not a moment for posturing and standing on picket lines,’ adding: ‘It hurts working people who need to get to work by using the railway and, of course, those within the union are hurt as well.’

Lammy said Labour was the party of working people but they also want to be the ‘party of government. So this is not a moment for posturing and standing on picket lines.’

Obviously, he is for a Tory-type pro-capitalist Labour government – such as was headed by Blair and then Brown – that leaves the working class in the lurch!

Former Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has hit back at Lammy saying he was ‘pretty disappointed’ by Lammy’s words. He continued: ‘I can’t see how people can’t see this as a just cause, that all RMT are asking for is protection against the cost of living for their members.’

McDonnell said Labour MPs should support working people by every means possible: ‘And that includes picket line attendance.’

The Labour split on exercising the right to strike comes at a time when rampant inflation is pauperising millions of workers – so wage rises are a matter of life or death for millions of workers.

Lammy wants to leave the working class to its fate. Asked if he would support British Airways (BA) staff in strike action, he told BBC News on Sunday: ‘All of us are feeling the pinch with inflation. Many of us might want a (pay) rise of 10 per cent; in truth, most people understand it’s unlikely that you’re going to get that.

‘It absolutely would not be right, it would not be responsible opposition, if I suggested yes to every strike.’ Pressed on whether he supports the proposed strike by check-in staff, he said: ‘No, I don’t. No I don’t – it is a no, it’s a categorical no.’

Asked why, he said: ‘Because I’m serious about the business of being in government and the business of being in government is that you support negotiation.’

In government Lammy’s Labour betrays the working class and is no different from the Tories. Lammy also wants to discipline those MPs who go on picket lines.

He added: ‘I suspect the chief whip will be speaking to them next week and making it very clear that a serious party of government does not join picket lines.’

Unite’s Sharon Graham slammed Lammy for launching a ‘direct attack’ on the British Airways workers. She added: ‘Supporting bad bosses is a new low for Labour and, once again, shows that politicians have failed. It is now down to the trade unions to defend working people. We are their only voice.’

In fact, the trade unions must use their power – both numerical and financial – to purge the Labour Party and deselect Labour MPs who do not support strike actions for wages to keep pace with the rising cost of living .

We have entered a period when inflation is set to let rip. The Bank of International Settlements has warned that the world economy has reached a ‘tipping point’ where it may be impossible to stop runaway inflation.

Unions must fight for wage increases that keep pace with inflation, as they organise to get rid of capitalism. At the centre of this defence must be the rapid building up of the WRP to mobilise the working class to expropriate the bankers and the bosses and bring in a planned socialist economy through carrying out a socialist revolution. Only the WRP fights for this policy. Join it today!