Tuesday, December 15, 2009

BA Strikes - Bah Humbug!

News broadcasts since yesterday have been dominated by Unite's announcement of 12 days of strike action over Christmas by British Airways workers, who face 30% pay cuts. Predictably, the tone of the coverage is outrage that the workers - who voted by more than 90% on an 80%+ turnout for action - should have the damned temerity to strike. After all, it is hardly a gesture of festive goodwill to ground the planes over the holiday season, is it?!

What the newshounds singularly failed to mention is that neither is it a gesture of festive goodwill on the part of the bosses to cut workers' wages by 30%! If anyone is in the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge here, it is BA management, but just because workers are refusing to play Tiny Tim, it is them who get the blame.

On the telly news this morning was an irritated posh woman, bemoaning that she would not be able to spend Christmas in Mauritius because of industrial action with which she has no sympathy. In the current economic climate, she declared, they should be grateful to have a job at all. No bread? Let them eat cake, I reckon!

How is it that when workers go to work and make big money for the bosses, it is the workers, rather than the bosses, who are expected to be grateful?! How is it that when times are good, the bosses get to cream off massive profits, but when times are bad, workers have to "share" in the sacrifices ie. take the hit?

I consistently argue within my own union that when we strike, we should do so at times that will hurt the bosses rather than our fellow working-class people. I have argued strongly against, for example, Tube strikes on New Year's Eve, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. That is an argument of tactics, to be had among rank-and-file members, and I would be interested to know what input the workers themselves had into the decision regarding the timing of this action.

But under the barrage of anti-union, anti-worker, hypocritical cant from BA management and their media mouthpieces, I am fully behind the BA workers' right to take whatever industrial action they feel will be most effective in defending their livelihoods against a vicious assault.

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