CABIN CREW STRIKES CONTINUE – more action over Easter

Striking BA cabin crew on the picket line at Heathrow yesterday
Striking BA cabin crew on the picket line at Heathrow yesterday

There were even more determined pickets at Heathrow Airport by striking cabin crew yesterday, in the last day of their current round of strike action.

They were chanting: ‘Two, four, six, eight – Willie won’t negotiate!’ and ‘I would rather be a picket than a scab!’, ‘What do we want? Willie out! When do we want it? Now!’ and ‘I’d rather read the Beano than the Mail!’

Unite says it is not calling strike action during the Easter holidays this weekend, but a new round of strike action is expected after that and support for the cabin crew continues to grow, in Britain and worldwide.

BA has been forced to scrap hundreds of flights since the strike action started.

One striking Unite member made it clear yesterday: ‘We are not giving up.

‘We will announce more strike days.

‘A word of advice to passengers booking British Airways – don’t.

‘There will be more disruption.

‘We have started this fight and we will not give up until Willie Walsh comes back to the negotiating table.

‘A lot of flights have been cancelled yesterday – 145 flights cancelled, which is half of the scheduled flights.

‘Willie Walsh CEO came in in May 2005. It was his plan to smash the union.

‘He tried in January 2007 to go for us, then 12 hours before the strike was due to start he got a deal.

‘This time he’s going for it. We will not give up, no matter how many flights he gets off the ground.

‘We are united in this fight.’

A French member of the cabin crew said: ‘I agree that the airport should come out to win our dispute.

‘British Airways has always been the proud national flag for the service it provides to its customers and we as cabin crew have always been proud to maintain British Airways as it is now.

‘But what Willie Walsh wants to turn British Airways into is a low-cost airline.

‘It is not for British Airways benefit, but for his benefit.

‘He’s only in this job for two years and he wants to leave with a big bonus.

‘We will have to strike again after today.

‘We are British Airways, not Willie Walsh.

‘I think British Airways should be renationalised because it is such a wonderful airline, and over 40,000 workers need their jobs.’

Another striking Unite member said: ‘We have heard the Scandinavian countries have refused to refuel British Airways flights.

‘At the weekend Stockholm airport workers refused to refuel British Airways planes.

‘Lufthansa pilots have supported us from day one and we’re ashamed of our British Airways pilots trying to break our strike.

‘Because of the condemnation, some of the British Airways pilots who had been trained to do cabin crew’s work have now refused to scab.

‘Willie Walsh has a lot of the City behind him.

‘There is a line of credit to him to smash us.

‘Willie Walsh has got managers, loaders, scabbing.

‘We are principled, we would never scab on other airport workers.’

A Unite union rep on the picket line at Hatton Cross said: ‘We will be forced onto the new fleet which for most of us will be a 40 per cent pay cut.

‘We can’t stop them from forming this new fleet, all we want is to maintain our current terms and conditions if we’re transferred to it.

‘We are not asking for more money.’

His colleague, also a Unite rep, said: ‘Eight years ago at Aer Lingus, Willie Walsh broke the unions, put them on worse contracts, now it is a low-cost airline.

‘Pilots went out for three days on strike at Aer Lingus, then he punished everyone by locking everyone out for another four days.

‘He did irreparable damage to Aer Lingus.

‘It is the same vindictive tactics he is carrying out now.

‘After the last strike he locked us out and refused to give us work when we were due to be rostered.

‘The support of the public is fantastic.

‘They keep coming up offering us donations.

‘The cars almost crash into each other as they hoot for us.

‘We are the frontline, standing up for our rights.

‘We were the first ones and hopefully the railmen and gas men will get strength from us.’