In a bitter dispute which has lasted months, seen several rounds of strike action, court injunctions and victimisations, British Airways bosses remain intransigent and committed to breaking the back of the cabin crew workers’ union.
Unite decided not to recommend acceptance of BA’s latest offer, which failed to make any significant concessions on the docking of pay and travel allowances (which have become central issues in the dispute) and eventually the offer was not even put to ballot. Solidarity spoke to an activist from BASSA, the section of Unite which organises cabin crew, about the dispute.
“There was supposed to be a ballot on the last BA offer to see if the crew were in favour of accepting it. However because there were so many conditions laid down by BA about what the crew could and couldn’t do in the future (if they accepted the deal) it was decided the ballot would be a waste of time. One of the major sticking points was that in order to accept the proposal, and so get staff travel back with full seniority in two years, all the litigation against BA had to stop. This included people who were sick during the strike, who had thousands of pounds deducted from their salaries.
“As I understand it, as each case comes up BA are being forced to back down and crew are being paid, but at the last count there were still more than 1000 cases outstanding against the company.
“Should these all go ahead and BA chooses to fight even a small proportion of them, it will cost the company a substantial sum of money. The management at BA have presumably have taken advice and know that they will lose the majority of these cases.
“Since the decision to turn down BA’s offer was made, everything has gone very quiet. Crew still continue to be suspended for strike related issues, the latest a crew member who was trying to make a Christmas collection for crew who were currently suspended or had been sacked.
“In short, the atmosphere at work is terrible and sickness is at a record high. I can only think that the next step will be a further ballot for strike action.”