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Posted on 7 July 2010 at 2:23 GMT

Limited new 'final' offer facing BA cabin crew

British Airways cabin crew began voting on 6 July on a new 'final' offer from the company. Despite the rhetoric of BA management the new offer seems to be similar to the old offer put forward prior to the last round of strikes.

Neil Cafferky

Although there are some guarantees on terms and conditions that were not in the last offer, the substantive issues that led to the strike have not been addressed.

The company's intention to set up a 'New Fleet' of new starters on inferior terms and conditions to current employees remains in place.

This new fleet could be used as a battering ram against conditions currently enjoyed by cabin crew. The issue of victimisations has also not been addressed, with staff travel still withdrawn from cabin crew who have participated in strike action and 60 union members are still suspended.

It is therefore incorrect for the national Unite leadership to make no recommendation on this offer.

In total the offer amounts to a serious attack on trade unionism at the company. For example, variable pay top ups "will only be made to those crew who do not participate in industrial action"! This threat alone is sufficient reason to oppose this offer as it discriminates against the right of workers to go on strike.

Quite clearly the aim of this 'offer' is to postpone the impending ballot on continued industrial action.

The refusal to put forward a recommendation is a failure of leadership by the national officers of Unite, particularly the joint general secretaries.

A failure to clearly reject this poor deal can only raise doubts in the minds of cabin crew that the national leadership is fully committed to getting a better deal.

Further action needed

It would have been far more constructive if Unite had recommended a rejection and pushed on to campaigning for a biggest possible 'Yes' vote for further industrial action in the upcoming ballot as quickly as possible.

This time could also be used to campaign within the rest of the BA workforce for greater practical support for this dispute, up to and including simultaneous strike action.

United action remains the key to defeating the generalised assault on terms and conditions and trade unionism at BA.

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