BASSAUnitedWeStandThe CP calls for workers to show their solidarity with BA cabin crew now up against a vicious employer looking for aggro. View the union position and crew twittering.





Within the next month we are likely to see a major struggle erupt. It is just possible that the battle between British Airways and Unite could be the harbinger of a wider movement of combat by Britain’s working people to defend what they hold in what is clearly emerging as a period of assault by employers in a crisis.

Behind the present conflict lies a determination by BA to act as the vanguard for a significant section of British capitalism. BA’s two-year pay freeze is not the first attack that seeks to make workers carry the can for the economic crisis but it is certainly the most significant. Victory for the employers at BA would be damaging for every worker in the country, since it will encourage all other employers to come down hard in the same way. This pay freeze badly needs thawing!

Despite intense pressure, including media bullying, management harassment, and legalistic pontificating, BA cabin crew have voted massively to take strike action. Injunctions have become not just BA managements’ favoured response to negotiations.  There’s no give and take here, just demands from the boss to capitulate.

Bullying has become BA managers’ preferred mode of operation. Maybe the Tories should be looking to report BA management to the national bullying helpline, rather than whipping up a storm about political opponents?! In a fit of pettiness, BA has even threatened to withdraw one of the few benefits of being an aircraft stewarding – air travel rights.

Whilst the plan by BA to mobilise a force of strike-breakers and also to form a scab union are both nothing new to trade union history, such stratagems certainly marks a new low in the company’s outlook.  Now Britain’s `favourite airline’ is on a par with Thatcher’s British Coal, or Rupert Murdoch’s News International in the level of viciousness towards unions it displays.

No doubt, highly paid lawyers are right now looking to find a tiny crack in Unite’s legal armoury. They probably will, since `my learned friend’, any old judge in fact, only wants to hear that an `arguable case’ exists to be resolved at some future date, thus giving the profession yet more lucrative work, before he will grant an injunction to stop a union from doing anything to support its members.

All power then to Unite’s members in their solid defiance. The proportionate voting turnout far exceeds the kind that we may expect in a few short months when Britain picks what government to have in a general election. The size of majority is so overwhelming that, if it were a state constitutional referendum, it might even stop the European Union doing its usual stunt of ignoring the outcome.

But what do we now see? Suggestions that this response of Unite’s members is over-the-top are not needed right now. It is not well understood it seems, even by certain senior officials of Unite, but air crew operate complex work shift patterns. The cycle means that, to ensure that all staff has an equal chance to take strike days, a dispute that would normally involve one day’s action requires many days. An employer that just will not listen requires a union to speak with one voice and that should be eloquently in favour of cabin crew and all that they hold dear.

BA cabin crew can hardly be accused of being strike-happy; they have taken no action for some 13 years.  Unite – indeed the whole trade union movement – needs to say loud and clear - `VICTORY TO BA CABIN CREW!’.

The Communist Party calls upon all trades unionists to campaign for support of Unite’s cabin crew and to adopt motions of solidarity right now and ensure that the workers are told of the wide support they enjoy amongst all other working people.

Communist Party Industry, Service & Transport Steering Committee