1:00pm Sunday 21st March 2010 Hampshire Chronicle
The joint leader of Unite has urged the chairman of British Airways and “sensible” board members to use their influence in a bid to resolve the bitter cabin crew dispute.
Tony Woodley attacked the “macho” management style of chief executive Willie Walsh and said it was time for the airline chairman Martin Broughton and other directors to intervene.
Mr Woodley said that despite “propaganda” from BA about the number of staff working during this weekend’s strike, he was certain that the vast majority of Unite members were taking industrial action.
“Contrary to the spin from the company about this strike collapsing, only five cabin crew have broken ranks and 80 have gone sick.
“I am now appealing to the BA chairman and sensible members of the board to use their influence, put passengers first, and return to the negotiating table for the good of everyone. It is quite obvious this strike is in no-one’s interest. We need a negotiated settlement.”
Mr Woodley has written to cabin crew congratulating them on their “magnificent” support for the strike. “You have stood up and stood strong for your rights, your dignity and your pride in the face of a bullying management and a malicious Tory media. Stay strong, be brave, don’t be intimidated. Don’t let the unfair abuse get to you.”
Mr Woodley said he was “ashamed” when he saw TV pictures of strikers concealing their faces to avoid being identified, continuing: “Willie Walsh seems to forget he is in Britain, not Burma. He talks about respect – he should practice what he preaches.”
Earlier, BA said it had reinstated a number of cancelled flights this weekend after maintaining that more crew than expected had turned up for work.
BA claimed 1,157 cabin crew ignored the first day of the three-day stoppage yesterday and reported for duty – equivalent to 97% of Gatwick crew and 52.5% of Heathrow crew.
An opinion poll showed that only one in four voters supported the strike. A survey by ICM, for BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme, found 60% believed the industrial action was “unjustified” with 25% expressing support.