AT Gatwick, on Sunday morning, pickets at the South Terminal roundabout got tremendous support from passing motorists, coaches and lorries, and fellow airport workers, with passengers in one car shouting out: ‘We think you’re really brave!’
A cabin crew member told News Line: ‘It is a complete myth pumped out by the BA propaganda machine that we are on top salaries.
‘I have been with BA for over ten years and my annual pay is under £20,000 a year.
‘We are the largest union and if we don’t take on Walsh and win, then BA will steamroll over the rest of the staff, including the engineers, baggage handlers and pilots.
‘The courts are riding roughshod over employment laws as employers get more bullish in preparation for a Tory government – and Willie Walsh is leading the way.
‘If the strongest trade union in the country doesn’t win, then every trade union will be in the firing line.
‘There definitely needs to be an industrial revolution, a general strike.’
A Thomson Airways pilot was on the picket line supporting the striking BA cabin crew.
He said: ‘This is a landmark dispute, the bottom line being the Ryanairisation of the airline industry.
‘Companies that are registered in Europe can pressure pilots and staff to work longer hours that are not permitted here.
‘Like the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, we’re seeing corporate pressure to cut corners.
‘The dispute should be generalised and the union should call everyone out.’
Dave Kelly, Unite regional rep for Gatwick cabin crew, said that with Willie Walsh claiming the company is losing £27 million a day, ‘It shows that the dispute is not about the sums; it’s about knocking these guys for six.
‘For sure, all the airline companies are watching this dispute with interest.
‘That’s why there has to be a negotiated settlement.’
There were five picket lines constantly manned on Saturday and Sunday around Heathrow Airport by very lively and determined striking British Airways cabin crew.
With their base at Bedfont Football Ground, the striking cabin crew are maintaining a regular rotation on the picket lines.
Many crew spoke to News Line on Saturday and Sunday. They did not give their names to avoid victimisation by BA.
One said: ‘I would like to see the rest of British Airways out on strike.
‘The rest of BA are facing the same attacks as us and they must see that if we were to lose they would be next.
‘I’m very proud of our unity.’
He alleged: ‘All you’re hearing from BA is just propaganda that nobody takes seriously.’
Another added: ‘The action should be spread across BA.
‘To me this is all about getting rid of Walsh and the only way to do that is to make it clear that the whole world is against him.
‘The Irish economy is still suffering from what he did at Aer Lingus and he was brought in to BA to do what he is doing against us today.’
A third cabin crew member said: ‘Each director that has come in since denationalisation has followed an agenda and this has been basically selling the family silver.
‘First, our catering, which was in-house, was formed into Gate Gourmet and sold off, and look what happened to them, unfairly sacked by the private company.
‘Then security was sold off and certain parts of engineering have also been hived off and sub-contracted.
‘The only thing Walsh can now take away is to take the money out of the pockets of the rank and file.’
Yesterday early afternoon, saw Unite co-leader Tony Woodley make another appeal to the Board of BA to ‘stop the war’.
He said, ‘This is an incredibly damaging dispute, for BA, for the public and for my members,’ urging the company to ‘get negotiations back on the table again.
‘We’re not going to solve it by a dictatorship or an offer that’s just put on the table in a take-it-or-leave-it way.’
He added: ‘You can see by the tail fins still parked up at Heathrow, planes aren’t flying.
‘This isn’t Burma, Mr Walsh, it happens to be Britain,’ said Woodley, condemning the BA ‘threats to striking BA cabin crew talking to the media’.
He added the dispute would be solved ‘not by pressure and dictators, but by getting round the table’.
He asked: ‘Why is it ordinary, decent men and women with a long history of service have voted to take strike action?
‘Why is it that people landing into Britain, far from not joining the strike are actually joining the strike.’
He appealed: ‘Let’s stop the war, get back round the table and finish the business we were partially successful in doing on Friday, to get a negotiated settlement.
‘I stand ready. Let’s make sure next week’s strikes are off the table and hopefully never have to come back.’
However, most cabin crew think such appeals to Walsh and his business friends are a waste of breath, that when the renewed strike action begins on March 27, the full force of the Unite union will have to be used, plus the international support.