The British Airways cabin crew dispute is hugely important. BA boss Willie Walsh’s attempts to deregulate, de-skill and casualise the BA workforce will not be an isolated attack — it will be part of a widespread, generalised offensive by bosses to break the backs of well-unionised workforces that have won stable pay and conditions.
None of us knows which industry, which workplaces, will be next. The fight now is in BA; it is our duty to support those workers. Their fight is our fight.
The pattern is clear; a financially profligate management has, in the midst of a global financial crisis, driven a large company into the ground and is now demanding that the workers — through pay-freezes and job cuts — pay the price, to save the company... for the shareholders.
Soon we will hear the same script from managers in local government, in the health service and in higher education. Except the workers will be asked to “save the service”, for the country.
The barrage of media abuse to which BA workers have been subject is no accident. Any group of workers who stick their heads above the parapet and dare to challenge the current bourgeois consensus in favour of cuts will be subject to similar attacks.
Like the BA workers, they will be called greedy and selfish.
Perhaps they will, like BA workers, have the distinct honour of being called such things by senior politicians such as the unelected Transport Secretary Lord Adonis and the unelected leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
No worker should have to uphold the “right” of super-rich managers to continue to manage, — because they will always manage things at the expense of the very people who make their businesses function. BA cabin crew have said that they will no longer put up Willie Walsh’s “right” to do that. The rest of the workers’ movement must support them.