Solidarity - The Working Class Weapon

British Airways bosses are investigating whether they can prove that the T&GWU union helped organise last month's one-day strike at Heathrow airport. Sympathy strikes are unlawful in Britain (and in Ireland too). If they can prove it, they can sue the union.

The stoppage was in support of sacked staff at Gate Gourmet, BA's in-flight caterers. Management there have admitted that they began planning eight months previously to get rid of their staff and replace them with Eastern Europeans who would be paid much lower wages. Interestingly, the parent firm of Gate Gourmet, Texas Pacific, is headed by David Bonderman, who is also chairman of union-busting yanair.

The law says it is ok to plot to sack workers and replace them with people on pathetically low pay. The law also says it is illegal for unions to organise support from another employer's staff for their members. And they say the law is impartial!

In reality, sympathy strikes are a workers' best weapon as individually we have little power compared to the boss. Standing together, however, we can defend our rights. The bosses know this, hence the attack on even the barest form of solidarity by workers. The more this type of non-unionised labour is accepted, the worse it wll be for all workers as oer the race to the bottom will sooner or later trickle down to unionised workers as bosses claim they need cut benefits in order to compete.

An Post's vulnerbility to non-unionised courier companies is an example of this; the bosses there are putting pressure to reduce the conditions of postal workers claiming they are under threat from private courier companies.

The response of the workers in this situaion needs to be to pressurise their union to begin a recruitment campagin in these other companies so that working conditions are raised for all workers in all companies instead of a futile short sighted attempt to protect current workers. Solidarity amongst workers - rather than cunning negotiationg skills of bureaucrats - is the strength of the workingclass. Let's return to that.

More on Workplace struggles and the unions

This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'. We also provide PDF files of all our publications for you to print out and distribute locally

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This edition is No88 published in Sept 2005

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