Do Something!,  UK Politics

Hubris at 30,000ft

BA Cabin Crew have voted for new industrial action. The strike call was supported by 83% of members returning ballot papers (60% of all members).

This call to strike is not about pay. It’s not about conditions, or manpower, or pensions. It is a response to 21st century union-bashing sans pareil and the systematic abuse of individual worker rights. Following last year’s strike action, some cabin crew were stripped of their travel concessions and others face disciplinary action for participating in lawful strike action. It should be pointed out that most BA Cabin Crew do not live in or anywhere near London. For the commuting workforce, the travel concessions are therefore an essential component of the overall employee remuneration package. They are used to subsidise the cost of getting to and from work and were part of the covenant between employee and employer when the job was taken, whatever contracts say about the company’s right to withdraw ‘perks’ at any time. Without the subsidised travel component, work for some becomes economically non-viable…a point not lost on senior management.

BA has offered to reinstate travel concessions to some crew but only on new-joiner terms, meaning employees of many years service would be at the bottom of standby lists. Unashamedly spiteful.

On the issue of suspensions and pending disciplinary action, Unite is willing to see each case go to ACAS, but BA management thus far refuses.

So what do we have here? An intransigent Union opposing all reasonable requests to cut costs? A bunch of economically illiterate, militant dinosaurs looking to drive the company into the ground? No and no. Compromise has been reached over pay, manpower and conditions, compromise that necessitated the Union taking some difficult decisions against the short-term interest of all members.

What we have is the clear victimisation of some members who had the temerity to participate in lawful strike action. This dispute is built on the vanity and stubbornness of BA’s erstwhile head honcho, Willie Walsh, a man with an ego the size of one of BA’s 767s. Walsh may no longer hold the reins at BA, but as the CEO of IAG – the holding group that manages newly-merged BA and Iberia – he has it within his power to bring this dispute to a conclusion today.

This is why Unions exist. To act in solidarity with individual workers persecuted by unscrupulous employers. With its continued victimisation of some workers, BA management is not looking to protect corporate profits and position the company for future growth, rather it seeks the defeat of those it perceives to be ringleaders and trouble-makers who eventually forced the company to the negotiating table. It is a needless, selfish, vainglorious pursuit of ‘victory!’ and you’d better believe that BA management don’t care if it’s you, the traveller, who ultimately pays the price for their self-gratification.

If you are unlucky enough to have your flight delayed or cancelled over Easter due to BA Cabin Crew strike action, or if you want to do something now to eliminate the risk of such action, write to Willie Walsh today demanding the company ceases its persecution of BA Cabin Crew:

FAO Willie Walsh
International Airlines Group
2 World Business Centre Heathrow,
Newall Road,
London Heathrow Airport,
HOUNSLOW,
TW6 2SF

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