BA cabin crew have now taken their seventh day of strike action in their embittered battle with union-busting management. According to the most conservative estimates, the strike has so far cost BA around £42 million, but the real figure is probably much larger.
BA boss Willie Walsh is desperately trying to win the confidence of investors and is spinning the figures. If the cost of his elaborate strike-breaking measures is taken into account, the dispute is probably costing nearer £100 million.
With pilots being paid £116 an hour as scab crew, fully-staffed replacement planes costing £3.5 million a day and empty planes (“freighters”) being flown across the world to make space at Heathrow (and to give the impression of business-as-usual) – Walsh has made it clear that he is willing to pay a heavy price to break the union.
Last week a leaked document from BA revealed that in management have been preparing for a union-breaking dispute for over three years. In a leaked document, Willie Walsh’s appointment as CEO came with the instruction to “hit the union where it hurts”.
Unite’s leadership also seem to be taking this strike seriously, levying members for the strike fund. From both sides of our class ridden society, this dispute is seen as a critical battle, which will have repercussions for how the class struggle plays out as the organised labour movement starts to move in response to the economic crisis.