Prime Minister Gordon Brown has launched a back-stabbing attack on the British Airways workers and their union, demanding that their strike planned to begin next Saturday is called off.
He branded the planned strike by British Airways cabin crew as ‘unjustified and deplorable’.
In a statement condemning the strike he continued: ‘So I hope that the strike is called off.
‘It’s not in the company’s interest, it’s not in the workers’ interest and it’s certainly not in the national interest.
‘At the same time we have got to find a way in which the two sides can get together.’
He concluded: ‘The strike is both regrettable and totally unjustified.’
Previously Lord Adonis, the transport secretary, said: ‘The impact will not only be deeply damaging on passengers, it will threaten the very existence of British Airways.’
Gordon Brown said that he agreed with Lord Adonis.
In response, the joint general secretary of the Unite union, Tony Woodley, said: ‘It is amazing how many people in certain political times jump on the bandwagon to condemn workers.
‘It is, as I say, rather unfortunate that governments of all shapes and sizes always want to kick unions and always want to kick employees.
‘Look, the wages and conditions that my members are on are not outrageous, yet they are not the minimum wage, and I would challenge anyone to say that they should be living on the minimum wage anyway.
‘Well, that is why our members have laid down cost cutting on the table here, which amounts to well over £50 million.
‘So people were acting responsibly; they were acting sensibly.
‘But this company does not want to accept an offer.
‘You know, if they wanted to accept an offer then they would have put an offer back onto the table.
‘This company does not want to accept an offer: it wants a war.
‘It wants to take on our members.
‘That is the way it appears to be, I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think that I am wrong.’
Woodley added: ‘Now, if Mr Walsh is listening to this, then with the greatest of respect he should put the offer back on the table and allow our members to obviously have a view about this.
‘That is good for customers, good solid industrial relations, and invariably good for British Airways.’
The strikes by BA cabin crew are due to take place on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of March with a second strike from the 27th to the 30th of March.
The action has been supported by a 92 per cent vote by the BA workers in favour of strike action.
The BA management boast of organising 23 scab planes to attempt to break the strike and stipulate that they can keep 70 per cent of flights running during the strike action.
Any strikebreaking could see the airports shut down and demands being made for a general strike.