Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/597/8241

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 October 2009

British Airways - What's really going on?

British Airways (BA) have announced that 1,700 jobs will go amongst cabin crew. 1,000 workers will take voluntary redundancy and a further 3,000 will move to part time work. This is due to take effect in November.

Neil Cafferky

BA has informed staff that additional cabin crew will be employed on terms and conditions inferior to those who will lose their jobs. It is clear BA is attempting to push through a restructuring campaign, first through cabin crew and later to the rest of the company by reducing staff, increasing workload and driving down wages and conditions. Unite, the union which represents the bulk of cabin crew at BA, has called on management to withdraw the proposals and return to talks or "risk a serious, drawn-out confrontation".

BA has pleaded that it is in the middle of a financial crisis and that the airline industry is showing no sign of recovery. This March they claimed they had lost 401 million over the previous year. However sources within BA have informed The Socialist that BA is in fact sitting on a 1 billion cash reserve.

This is not counted as an asset by a simple accounting trick. BA claims this money must be reserved in case the company goes bust overnight and is thereby liable for some arbitrarily selected number of potential customers it would have to pay back.

But BA is angling to buy BMI, Japan Airlines and merge with Iberia to create the largest global airline operator. These are not the actions of a company one day from crisis and liquidation.

BA's main aim is to come out of the industry crisis as a super profitable global giant through mergers and attacking wages and conditions.

Historically BA workers have been one of the best organised workforces in the country. Union density is very high with a long tradition of militant struggle. This has meant BA workers have managed to hold on to many of the concessions workers wrung from employers and government in the period of 1945-1972.

The centrepiece of this is the 1948 agreement. Under this agreement there can be no compulsory redundancies. If a job is abolished, then a worker has the right to be transferred to another job on the same pay with the same pay progression as his or her original job.

What this means in practice is that a worker's pay, and therefore their pensions, can only go up. Workers at Ryanair or Easyjet can only dream of such conditions. Naturally BA management hate this agreement and view the union activists who defend it much the same way a snake views a mongoose.

Since BA was privatised in 1987 the over-riding mission of BA management has been to smash the 1948 agreement and bring the unions to heel.

Tearing up the agreement is one thing, enforcing it on the workforce quite another. Unfortunately BA management have used the crisis in the industry to force national union leaders into accepting fundamental change in the way BA conducts industrial relations.

Three unions are present at BA - Unite (divided into T&G and Amicus sections), Balpa (representing pilots) and GMB. For industrial relations purposes the workforce is divided into six National Sectional Panels or NSPs. These are loading/ramp, administration, cabin crew, engineering, pilots and management. Each union nominates reps, in proportion to their strength among the workforce in an NSP, to negotiate with management of their section.

BA would find it very difficult to face down sustained united action by all the unions together. Management's strategy therefore is to carry out isolated attacks on different sections of the workforce. They try to probe for weakness among one section and use whatever inferior terms are enforced as a tool to drive down conditions in the rest of the company. So the attack on cabin crew is a provocation in a wider war against the 1948 agreement.

Cabin crew should not be left to face this attack alone. The national officers of all the BA unions should issue a joint statement opposing any change to the 1948 agreement and pledging mutual support for any action taken to defend it. But BA workers should not simply rely on action by national union leaders. It will be their willingness to get organised and fight that will decide the future of the 1948 agreement.

There is an urgent need to set up a joint shop stewards committee of the most senior reps to co-ordinate united resistance to any attacks by management on the agreement.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 13 October 2009:

The main parties say: 'Work until you drop'


Postal workers

Victory to postal workers


Socialist Party editorial

The economy: Green shoots or scorched earth?

What would a Tory government be like?


War and occupation

Afghan conflict: Stop the war now


Youth fight for jobs

Apprenticeships? Yes, but not at any price!


Socialist Party news and analysis

Manchester mobilises against fascists

RAP victory in Walthamstow

Housing workers in 'sleep over'

Fast News


Socialist Party workplace news

Fight the fire service cuts

British Airways - What's really going on?

University staff forced to strike

Unison - opening door to minority rule

Socialist stands for NUT vice-president


International socialist news and analysis

Sri Lanka: Shut down the camps!

Greece: Hated ND government booted out in general election


Socialist Party review

A 'dis-service' to Leon Trotsky


 

Home   |   The Socialist 13 October 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

British Airways:

triangleTrade unions must fight to put their stamp on events

triangleGE Aviation workers march to save jobs

triangleNationalise British Airways to stop 12,000 redundancies

triangleBail out the real wealth creators, not the rich

triangleNationalise the railways: For an integrated public transport system

Unions:

triangleWhere's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?

triangleEffective testing and properly funded safety plan needed

triangleHow far can the Starmer counter-revolution go?

triangle

Equity union conference calls for radical change - now lead a fight!

Pay:

triangleLondon bus dispute against low pay, pay cuts and longer hours

triangleHMRC: Divisive pay deal leads to expulsions

triangleDrivers win case - they are workers

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

24/2/21

South Wales

Justice for Moyied Bashir

24/2/21

Asylum

Tories admit guilt for asylum seeker neglect

24/2/21

Bus

London bus dispute against low pay, pay cuts and longer hours

24/2/21

HM Revenue and Customs

HMRC: Divisive pay deal leads to expulsions

24/2/21

Socialist Students

Socialist Students conference - postering

24/2/21

Sussex

W. Sussex children's centres on the chopping block

24/2/21

British Gas

GMB members continue fight against 'fire and rehire' in British Gas

24/2/21

Liverpool

Liverpool Unite branch supports 'no cuts' budget strategy

24/2/21

TUSC

Scottish TUSC election campaign launch

24/2/21

Coventry

Coventry success building subscriptions

24/2/21

Nottingham

Save John Carroll Leisure Centre

24/2/21

TUSC

Keep the fighting fund rushing in for a TUSC stand in May

24/2/21

Tories

Tories target universities in free speech shakedown

24/2/21

Children

"I'm here to fight for the future education of children in Hackney"

24/2/21

Electricians

Hinkley Point electricians fight 'deskilling'

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999