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Posted on 10 January 2017 at 13:12 GMT

Picketers at Heathrow airport, 10.1.17, photo by Rob Williams

Picketers at Heathrow airport, 10.1.17, photo by Rob Williams   (Click to enlarge)

Support BA cabin crews' strike for fair pay

Chris Newby

British Airways (BA) cabin crew members of the union Unite are striking for 48 hours against poverty pay. Following the heroic battle of cabin crew six years ago to defend pay and conditions, British Airways management led by CEO Willie Walsh forced through new contracts on far worse terms and conditions for all new starters.

This has led to a situation where cabin crew working on the mixed fleet contract have basic pay starting at 12,192, plus 3 an hour "flying pay" totalling an average pay of 16,000, including allowances, each year. Mixed fleet cabin crew work on a combination of long and short haul flights.

A recent survey revealed almost half of new cabin crew had taken on a second job to make ends meet, with some saying they had to sleep in their cars between shifts because they could not afford the petrol to drive home. Two thirds admitted to going to work unfit to fly because they could not afford to be off sick. Yet the parent company of BA, IAG, is forecast to make profits this year of 2.3 billion.

These pay levels are some of the lowest in the industry. Cabin crew are being given no other option but to strike as British Airways management is refusing to engage in any meaningful negotiations. The determination of the cabin crew to win better pay and conditions is shown by the fact that over 800 cabin crew from British Airways' 'mixed fleet' have joined Unite since the start of the dispute over poverty pay. The Socialist Party fully supports cabin crew in this struggle.

Manchester

BA cabin crew protest, Manchester, Jan 2017, photo by Becci Heagney

BA cabin crew protest, Manchester, Jan 2017, photo by Becci Heagney   (Click to enlarge)

A very noisy protest took place outside Manchester Airport's Terminal 3 during the BA cabin crew strike. Unite members were chanting "low pay, no way!" and "pay rise, not lies" and getting support from passengers going in and out of the airport, including one who donated two boxes of chocolates!

The press have been reporting that the workers are on 21,000 a year and only interested in "shopping and cocktails". In reality, mixed fleet crew start on 12,000 a year and work incredibly long hours. In contrast, BA forecasts to make 2.3 billion in profit this year.

Union members rejected a pay offer of 2% in December. They are demanding a living wage, an increase of around 8%, and a scheduling agreement.

Mixed fleet staff work both short and long-haul flights and often don't have breaks in between. The protesters were confident and are up for the fight - Unite has just announced another three days of strike action on 19th-21st January. We should all give them our full support - say no to poverty pay!

Becci Heagney

This above report by Chris Newby was posted on the Socialist Party website on 10 January 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist. The report by Becci Heagney was added onto the website on 11 January.

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Coronavirus crisis - 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.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • 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.
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Related links:

British Airways:

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

triangleSummer of airline industry strikes against low pay and worsening conditions

triangleMixed-fleet workers show strikes get results

Strike:

triangleTower Hamlets council workers strike against wholesale attack on terms and conditions

triangleTower Hamlets council strike

triangle1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

triangleThe Tyneside apprentices' strike during WW2

Pay:

triangleTory NHS betrayal

triangleHomerton hospital workers deserve equal pay and conditions

triangleNo choice but to fight the system

Poverty:

trianglePoverty rises again - especially for BAME workers

triangleA timely read about a pandemic that overwhelms society

Heathrow airport:

triangleCoronavirus workplace news in brief

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