BRITISH AIRWAYS mixed fleet strikers on Saturday called for the TUC and other unions to take action in support of their fight against poverty pay.
Chanting ‘Willie Out!’ over 600 BA strikers arrived for a short meeting at the TUC on of Saturday before marching through central London. The strikers won support from shoppers and bus drivers as they marched along Oxford Street to demonstrate outside Marks & Spencer before marching past the US embassy to Trafalgar Square.
At the meeting inside the TUC, Unite London Region Chair Jim Kelly had told the strikers: ‘We bring you our support from the London region. There will be 56,000 against Trump on the Women’s March in Trafalgar Square so let’s join them.’
Some representatives from Unite branches also pledged support for the strikers. Several of the strikers and their supporters spoke to News Line before going into the TUC and on their march.
Ex-BA cabin service manager of 20 years, Dallas Mcintosh said: ‘I resigned earlier this year because the job had become untenable. I was being constantly suspended on trumped up allegations. It affected my health quite badly. I support the mixed fleet crew dispute. It’s about money but it’s about more than money – it’s about dignity and respect.
‘I would be all for bringing Unite out nationally to force the arrogant management to look at themselves and recognise and engage with their most valuable asset – their workforce. The drive for profit has become all consuming. It’s the same on Southern rail. I firmly believe there is a huge safety implication in the poverty pay at BA.
‘People are being worked to the point of exhaustion and are frightened to speak out.
‘The strike shows a huge amount of courage. Cabin crew usually do what they’re told, they are not used to taking rebellious action like this. So it’s a huge step to defy a bullying management.’
Striking BA mixed fleet cabin manager and Unite member Marienne Clayton said: ‘I’m here to fight the cause and to support my colleagues for a brighter and fair future. It’s very sad we’ve had to resort to strike action but management won’t sit down and talk.
The cabin crew are on very low wages for such a prestigious company. (BA owner) IAG made record profits last year, $2.4bn. Mixed fleet contributed an enormous revenue for the company. We would like some financial recognition of our contribution to a highly productive fleet. We need more support, Unite should extend the action.’
BA striker and Unite member Chris added: ‘I’m here for the rally at the TUC. We want support from the TUC, support from Unite has been fantastic. I didn’t want to be pushed into this position but we have been forced to strike. We can’t live on what we earn and we don’t earn what we were promised. The way the management treat us is very denegrating.
‘The terminology they use in communications, saying they are disappointed with our action is like a parent. They should be acting as a responsible employer and engage with us – enter constructive talks. They say they are open to talks but they won’t join the table and nothing is done.
‘We need to resolve our struggle. We need the TUC to call action in our support. The cost of living is going up and up. In our job we have to eat in restaurants or buy pot noodles. We don’t get allowances like other workers, part of our earnings is classed as sustinence. We need wider action, we have to win.’
Fellow striker and Unite member David Williams said: ‘It’s rubbish what we’re paid. It’s literally poverty pay. You live on cans of beans and hot dogs. People come to work to eat a meal because they won’t until they get on a plane. That’s why we are striking. It’s why I am here.
‘We need better pay and better conditions. We’re at the TUC everybody need to come out and bring British Airways to its knees. The company is intimidatory and has to be stood up to. I would be for a general strike. I think Theresa May says a lot but it is all spin to make us feel included while at the same time making cuts.’
BA mixed fleet Unite rep Charly Bacon told News Line: ‘We want fair pay. We are some of the lowest paid workers in the industry. We want BA to come to us and make a fair offer so we can live.
‘At the moment, our pay is so low people are struggling to live everyday lives. That is something you don’t expect from the UK’s flagship carrier airline. We want as much support as we can get from the TUC. We want them to call action to back us. We want the TUC to get our story known and to get other branches to support us.’
Striker Jason said: ‘BA told us we’d get £20,000 a year, yet we’re lucky to clear £1,500 a month. That’s not enough to live on. People have rents of £600 a month in shared accommodation. We want a decent basic wage. That was what they promised. We have to win. We will continue our strike until we get a decent wage.
‘We’re at the TUC, we need a rocket up their bottom to get behind Unite. The TUC need to call action in our support. BA is sweeping this under the carpet. We need to be public with more reports in the media. It feels there’s a blackout. We need strike action to back us not just words in support.’ Unite striker Rodrigo Anguilo added: ‘We have to win and get fair pay.’
At their lively demonstration and leafleting outside Marks & Spencer on Oxford Street, strikers chanted ‘6p won’t get me far – I’m still sleeping in my car!’ Unite BA striker Rebecca Croxted said: ‘BA do need to make things fair. They can’t expect us to work and live in the London area and not pay a competitive wage.
‘They need to stop comparing us to other airlines like easyJet when our situation is very different. We travel to America for instance and have to eat premium food. Other unions definitely need to take action to support us. We can’t be left alone like the junior doctors were.’