Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/626/9570
Support BA Cabin Crew
On Monday 24 May strikers' red flags could be seen flying around Heathrow, but the same could not be said for a lot of BA planes as cabin crew began their latest strike action.
'Brutish Airways' boss Willie Walsh remains intransigent on the issue of discounted staff travel and imposing new and much worse conditions on cabin crew.
But the workforce and union are equally determined. This round of strike action is set to run for 15 days, with three five-day actions with a day's break in between.
The Socialist urges all our readers to build support for the strikers in your workplaces and trade union branches and if possible to make solidarity visits to the picket lines around Heathrow.
Send messages of solidarity to
After a brief detour through the high court, British Airways cabin crew returned to the picket lines on Monday. BA rejected a last minute offer by Unite the union to suspend the strike in return for a restoration of the staff travel discount. This has been stripped from cabin crew as a 'punishment' for taking strike action.
Cabin crew on the picket lines have a clear understanding that the union is now in a fight to the end with BA chief executive Willie Walsh. This was almost the exclusive concern of the strikers.
Although cabin crew would much prefer not to strike, the glorious sunshine that greeted the first day of strike action helped to provide a good mood on the pickets. Public support remains as high as ever around Heathrow.
The now familiar rows of parked jets were once again in evidence by late afternoon. Amicus cabin crew are claiming that 40% of flights were cancelled on the first day of action and Unite estimates that BA is losing £7 million for every strike day.
Interruption of Acas talks mistaken
The Socialist Party viewed the invasion of Acas talks between BA management and Unite by members of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) as completely mistaken. This took place at the end of the SWP-initiated Right to Work Conference on Saturday 22 May.
In an industrial dispute the final decision on tactics to confront the employer must always rest with the workers taking action themselves. Whatever the nature of the deal being negotiated it is not for a group like the SWP to decide to break up talks. A decision to accept or reject a deal is solely the property of cabin crew and their democratically elected representatives.
Support and solidarity
Socialists can assist by sharing experiences and ideas learned in past disputes and by building support and solidarity for the strike among the general public.
This has always been the method of the Socialist Party. We will offer our opinion on the course of a dispute to workers, but we believe that any initiative taken in support of a dispute should be taken in consultation with the workers themselves.
A key task for socialists and trade union activists is to raise the confidence of workers to fight. Substituting themselves for workers in struggle will mistakenly create the impression that a special minority of activists will do the fighting, leaving workers as bystanders.
The Socialist Party stands for the maximum control of workers over their disputes. These actions of the SWP are counter-productive. It is the mass action of cabin crew through their union that is the key to defeating Walsh.
Despite this view we are totally opposed to any victimisation of those who mistakenly took part in this protest.
The priority for all workers in the trade union movement now is to support the cabin crew workers against Walsh and BA management.
In The Socialist 26 May 2010:
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis