On Monday a high court judge sided with the BA bosses and declared the planned strike by BA cabin crew workers ‘illegal’. On Saturday Workers Climate Action will be siding with the BA workers in demanding their right to strike. They have that right no matter how the judiciary interpret Tory anti-trade union laws, no matter how many media moguls denounce them and no matter how much intimidation they face from bullies like Willie Walsh and his management.
This dispute is now about more than just another privatised national industry seeking to create precarious McWorkers to hire and fire at will. It is about more than Willie Walsh attempting to break the back of an already weak British trade union movement. It is definitely, about more than the well to do British holiday makers ‘God-given-right’ to fly to their second home in Tuscany.
This dispute is now about our right to organise collectively in our workplace to defend ourselves from some of the worst attacks by capital. This is about our right to take collective direct action that gives us a little bit more control over our livelihoods. This dispute is about protecting our last legal form of self-defence against the likes of Willie Walsh, O’Leary and Fred the Shred. This is now a fight for our right to strike.
The Tolpuddle Martyrs didn’t ask permission to form a union. Labour movements of yesteryear didn’t ask a judge or Murdoch’s predecessors if they could have the weekend off, paid holiday, maternity leave, sick pay or a non-toxic working environment. Every one of these gains and many more were fought for by ordinary workers organising collectively to take action in the workplace. Thanks to New Labour mortgaging our future to bailout the rich, it is the rest of us that will have to make the repayments when the Tories and Whigs come looking for cutbacks.
‘WE WON”T PAY FOR THEIR CRISIS’, can be heard screamed on pickets around the world. Yet this demand is only heard because it is backed up by direct action. The most fundamental form of this has always been the labour strike. Withholding our labour from capital is the last line of defence. If we hold this line then we use it as a foundation for building a better world, instead of fighting rearguard actions against rich robbers. A strong labour movement can fight at the point of production for just transitions to sustainable futures. Like all the Robin Hoods of mythology, we’ll fight collectively for the rich to pay for these transitions.
If the dismayed BA cabin crew are in need of a little inspiration for what they can achieve they needn’t just look to mythology. The New South Wales Builders’ Labourers Federation used their collective power to go from fighting for toilet breaks to imposing labour Bans on whole green spaces and residential areas due for demolition by ‘developers’. Lucas Aerospace workers devised detailed plans for shifting their production from weapons of mass destruction to social goods like electric vehicles for public transport. BA workers don’t even need to look globally to the Greek resistance on general strike at the cutbacks imposed by the IMF and Eurozone. The cabin crew just need to look up the road to the campaign against the third runway, who were the last to beat Willie Walsh and his friends in industry and government.
So BA workers now is the time to strike whether sanctioned by a judge or not. For everyone else we’ll be fighting for their right to strike, on our bikes. The Flying Bike Picket will meet at 1pm on saturday the 22nd of May outside Grow Heathrow, Sipson, Ex-site of the 3rd runway. All wanting not to pay for their crisis are welcome to join us.