Friday, March 19, 2010

I'm Going Back to Bedfont

BRITISH AIRWAYS management seem to have done their damnedest to ensure a strike before Easter, and are doubtless counting on the union-bashing Tory leaders and media, and Gordon Brown's timorous crew, to make sure the workers are blamed.

So I am glad my union is taking a stand.

We've seen cabin crews coming to their meeting, some still in uniform and tired after long flights in service, determined to hear how things stood, and have their say. The union tried to restore talks on the offer the company had made, them withdrawn. BA wasn't interested.

Now the strike is on and Unite is calling a rally tomorrow a.m. Here is its very reasonable call:

"These Unite members understand the pressures the recession places on the company.
But they believe BA’s future, and 40.000 jobs, depend on it staying a premier airline.

For over one year crew have tried to get management to negotiate. They’ve even offered
to save the service by making sacrifices – up to £62 million in savings.

But BA won’t listen.

Instead BA has imposed changes, is refusing to negotiate openly and fairly and is
intimidating its workforce.

These members are fighting to save their jobs and support their families.

BA must listen.

Help stop this attack on jobs and protect standards in our aviation industry.

Please come and show your support for these trade union members at a protest this Saturday (20 March)

Location: Bedfont F.C., The Orchard,
Hatton Road, Bedfont, Middlesex TW14 8QT
Nearest Railway – Hatton Cross underground (300 yards)
Bus Service- 203 Hounslow-Staines-Hounslow


Last time I was down that way was with Gate Gourmet workers who provided BA's airline catering, and were fighting for their jobs. Because BA had outsourced to this American-owned firm, it was not counted as a BA dispute. Baggage handlers who took action in solidarity with the catering workers - not only members of the same union but in some cases family members - were disciplined for "secondary" action - a crime invented under Tory law which Labour has maintained.

Despite marching Gate Gourmet workers up and down to Labour Party conference, Unite went on to give £11 million to Labour. Tory David Cameron and his media pals are so confident of their anti-union position they say Labour is "embarrassed" over this. They even compared Labour's Charlie Whelan, now working for Unite, with their financial backer Lord Ashcroft.

What a cheek, what an insult. Unite members whose money goes to Labour work for a living. And unlike Ashcroft or press baron Rupert Murdoch, and others, they pay income tax in this country. They get to put a cross on a ballot paper now and then, but don't get as much say as those running newsppapers.

I said that the way to win against Gate Gourmet was by spreading the action abroad to places where BA flew. The example set by Liverpool dockers - who did not have official backing - would be much more effective against an airline. Now things are changing. Already some unions abroad have pledged support for the BA workers. And Unite is learning, however painfully.

The politicians have ensured this is also a political struggle. And that is why it is important to turn out for rallies like that tomorrow.



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