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Incensed BA cabin crew strike, protest and rally over pay
Chris Newby, London Socialist Party
Despite freezing temperatures, striking British Airways (BA) mixed fleet cabin crew were out in big numbers at the start of their second set of strike days on 19 January. Rallying at Bedfont football club near Heathrow Aiport, striking cabin crew (members of Unite the Union) heard local MP and shadow chancellor John McDonnell pledge his support.
Both John and London Unite secretary Peter Kavanagh made the point that the workers are just demanding a wage that they can live on, which British Airways can more than afford given that its parent company IAG is set to make over £2 billion in profits this year.
The strikers then moved out to set up three protest lines around Heathrow. There is clearly a lot of support for the cabin crew with plenty of drivers tooting their solidarity including local police.
The determination of the strikers was highlighted by workers who had come straight off flights, some who had been working for over 12 hours, to join the strike.
These workers are incensed that they are being offered a pittance of a pay increase when their low wages mean that many have to commute long distances to work because they can't afford to live nearby. Because of this some cabin crew, when they have less than 24 hours between flights, have to pay for a hotel room out of their own money because it takes too long to go home.
Over 100 cabin crew then rallied at Hatton Cross station to hear Unite general secretary Len McCluskey pledge the full support of the national union to striking cabin crew. The Socialist Party also pledges it's full support.
The strikers held lobbies of Marks & Spencer stores on Oxford Street on 21 January and held a rally beforehand which Socialist Party member and National Shop Stewards Network chair Rob Williams spoke at following an invitation from workers.