‘WE stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Unite who are fighting for a fair contract at British Airways,’ says the Teamsters trade union in the United States.
‘The Teamsters are the most powerful union in the US and an active member of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).
‘ITF affiliates around the world are mobilising to support British Airways workers in their fight for passenger safety and worker respect.
‘Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa has been in communication with Unite’s Joint-General Secretary Tony Woodley regarding his members’ struggles with British Airways management.’
The Teamsters met Unite representatives in Washington yesterday to discuss the strike action by Unite’s 12,000 cabin crew members at British Airways that begins this Saturday.
The cabin crew are fighting to defend their jobs, pay and working conditions against the imposition of new terms by BA.
The Teamsters has 40,000 members working in the aviation industry.
They are threatening to refuse to service scab BA planes.
Other international unions will do the same and cabin crew may even mount pickets at terminals abroad.
The Australian unions said yesterday that they will refuse to load, clean or refuel scab BA planes.
The giant Verdi union in Germany has also declared its full support for the cabin crew.
The government’s Business Secretary Lord Mandelson tried to sneer at the powerful international support: ‘It doesn’t mean talking to the international trade unions will deliver them what they want,’ he said.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has reported further support for BA cabin crew among civil aviation workers worldwide.
Gabriel Mocho, ITF Civil Aviation Section Secretary stated: ‘Today’s meetings between Unite and the Teamsters, and the decision to help by the Australian Transport Workers’ Union show just how strongly airline workers around the world feel about this dispute. We are all backing the cabin crew and their desire for a speedy solution.
‘Ask anyone in the 264 aviation trade unions that are members of the ITF what they think of the dispute and they’ll tell you that they want to avoid industrial action and disruption to passengers. But in this case they don’t believe BA management has shown a real willingness to sort out the problems. The result has been a groundswell of support for the cabin crew and a search for ways to show it.’
He continued: ‘If a solution to this strike isn’t found – and we, Unite and all our colleagues worldwide are actively seeking a settlement – then our member unions will continue to mobilise to support the strikers, using the kind of lawful expressions of solidarity that are most appropriate to them.
‘That means whatever expression of solidarity they feel is within their power and within the laws of the land where they are located. The cabin crew are being supported in this by everyone from air traffic controllers to refuellers to ground and flight staff, and they want to do what they can to back their colleagues in BA. If a satisfactory solution is found, which is what we all hope for, then that action won’t be taken. If it should prove necessary then we’d rather not say in advance the exact forms it will take.’
He added: ‘Other unions have had support from Unite in the past, and they’re ready to stand by them now.’
He concluded: ‘Saying it’s wrong to internationalise this dispute is missing the point. BA is an international organisation that affects people around the globe. All of them are involved one way or another, and in this case thousands of them, in hundreds of trade unions, are involved in backing the BA cabin crew and a speedy and satisfactory end to this dispute.’
The ITF is a global union federation with 751 member trade unions, representing 4,669,720 members in 154 countries. Two hundred and sixty-four of those unions represent workers in the aviation sector, including cabin crew, pilots, ground staff, baggage handlers and air traffic controllers.