Socialist Party MEP supports Cabin Crew dispute

When British Airways Cabin Crew announced their decision to take 12 days of strike action over Christmas an anti-union campaign bordering on incitement was opened up in the media.  There was a deliberate attempt, by the Daily Mail in particular, to give the impression that the strike had no public support.

In fact there were many workers who understood the impossible position Cabin Crew had been placed in by BA management. Below we publish some letters of support sent to BASSA (British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association, the T&G side of UNITE Cabin Crew) including one from Joe Higgins, Socialist Party MEP for Dublin.

Dear Friends,

I am writing to express my solidarity, as well as the solidarity of my party and our sister party in England and Wales, the Socialist Party,  for your campaign to defend your pay and conditions of employment in British Airways.

Management’s proposal to axe 1,700 jobs, impose a 2 year wage freeze and to bring in a 2nd tier of ‘yellow pack’ jobs must be robustly opposed. It is clearly an attempt to impose Ryanair style pay and conditions on the staff of BA.

I also condemn the extremely confrontational approach from BA management in this dispute. Willie Walsh, fresh from savaging the pay and conditions of Aer Lingus workers in his previous job clearly wants to repeat the same again in BA.

It is important for all workers in aviation that a stand is taken. I commend your decision to vote for strike action over the Christmas period. Such a decision is an important stand against the ‘race to the bottom’ in pay and conditions for workers in the aviation industry.

I also condemn the vicious campaign in the media against you over the last number of days.  The millionaire owned press, who themselves wish to attack the conditions of their own workers cannot be trusted to be impartial when it comes to workers’ struggles.

If I or the Socialist Party can be of any practical or political assistance during your struggle please don‘t hesitate to get in contact.

In solidarity,

Joe Higgins MEP

Dear Comrade,

I am emailing to offer full support to your members in their dispute and strike, if that proves necessary. As the President of The Department of Work and Pensions group (PCS) I know that my members will want me to offer our support as we have in recent years been forced on several occasions to call strike action to make our management listen to reason. I am sure that my members will be shocked at the hostile media coverage you have received and the aggressive management stance taken. It is obvious to any Trade unionist from your ballot result and the level of action your members are prepared to take that your members are desperate to be heard. It is also plain that BA management are the ones responsible for jeopardizing peoples Christmas travel plans and that they could and should lift that threat by getting back into talks straight away.

I will send you an official message of support tomorrow that we will publish on our website. I will also write to all DWP branches to ask them to pledge support for your dispute.

In Solidarity

Jane Aitchison

DWP Group President (PCS)

Dear colleagues,

I am writing as an elected shop-steward for the SIPTU trade union in Aer Lingus at Dublin Airport, and an elected Councilor for the Socialist Party in the area of Dublin where the airport is located to send full support for your strike action.

As a fellow airline worker in a company which has endured a sustained onslaught on our pay and conditions akin to your own, I can honestly say we have been really impressed by the bold and determined action that crew in BA are proposing to take. We have been at the receiving end of the attacks of Willie Walsh and it brings real joy to see somebody stand up to him.

Undoubtedly the media will seek to demonize you, as they do to workers here in Ireland who are attempting to defend our living standards. You should take heart that ordinary workers can see through this propaganda, because we are all facing the same attacks. Only today, I was on a picket line with Tesco drivers who took unofficial action over an undermining of their conditions having been forcibly outsourced to another company. These workers were speaking about your action and how inspiring it is to see workers willing to take the type of action that is unfortunately going to be necessary to defend ourselves.

One of the founders of the trade union movement in Ireland, Jim Larkin used to say, “The great appear great, only because we are on our knees – let us rise!” Even on your knees Willie Walsh doesn’t appear all that great so I have absolutely no doubt that by standing up to him you can be successful.

We are watching developments and wishing you are the very best. Your stance has been an inspiration to us. Unfortunately we are presently also facing a vicious assault on our wages and conditions. The race to the bottom is alive and well across Europe as they seek to pit us against each other and drive down costs to boost their profits. Only by standing together can we defeat them. We wish you every success and will do anything we can to assist your struggle.

All the very best,

Councilor Clare Daly


My wife and I would like to support you with your planned dispute.

I recently retired from teaching – as a socialist and trade unionist I don’t often get the chance to fly long haul but we saved up for a flight in October to Australia to see family, traveling BA and Qantas.  Very attentive staff, great service, I don’t know how you all cope with long-haul especially, cramped conditions, long shifts, unreasonable passengers etc.  I’ve seen BA staff work wonders for elderly or disabled passengers, young unaccompanied children etc.  Don’t let Willie Walsh get away with this, lower staffing ratios will undermine quality without a doubt.

As for the so-called legal case over who was balloted, my wife and I know enough about voluntary redundancy situations to know that the deal often gets sorted – or not – at the last minute, sometimes people apply and get turned down at the eleventh hour, so it’s understandable that your union would have to let them participate in the vote.  Most would probably not bother to vote for a strike they wouldn’t be involved in anyway, so without them your 92% might have been even higher.  We noticed that BA wouldn’t give you names anyway, typical.

Disappointed that Derek Simpson didn’t make a better case on TV, didn’t exactly sound like a rallying call.  To my mind the ‘secret’ video of the announcement and the response showed your unity and enthusiasm for action.  Most trade unionists would have been proud to get a ballot result like you did.

Keep it up and good luck to you
Paul Gerrard

(NUT retired)


I am RMT rep for the Rickmansworth Stations Group on London Underground. My members include former BA cabin Crew, who left BA because of the deteriorating working conditions and aggressive management.

We too are facing a major dispute over job security and conditions and expect to be taking strike action next year.

It is important that workers stand together in the face of a concerted attempt to make us pay for an economic crisis brought about by the bosses, New Labour government and the system they represent.

All the best in your dispute.

Jared Wood.


1 Comment

  1. Great site, will be back again very soon

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