BA uses Qatar Airways to break strike by Unite members
A 16-day strike of British Airways cabin crew, which begins on 1st July, will have considerably less impact after the Department for Transport gave the go-ahead for BA to use staff and nine planes from Qatar Airways, which has lost business since a boycott of Qatar by Arab Nations over accusations that the country supports terrorism.
In early June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt suspended ties with Qatar. The countries said they would halt all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, eject its diplomats and order its citizens to leave the Gulf states. Saudi Arabia said it took the decision to cut diplomatic ties due to Qatar's "embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilising the region". These groups include al-Qaida and Islamic State.
This hit Qatar Airways, which for the year up to March had reported a 10% increase in sales and according to its Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, had an "expansion and growth strategy".
The Unite union bosses were foolish not to have foreseen that Qatar Airways would jump in to assist BA during its strike. Qatar owns 20% of IAG, which owns British Airways. Qatar, incidentally, also owns 20% of Heathrow Airport and Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker is on Heathrow's Board of Directors.
Al Baker has no regard for the rights of British people and believes they have too many "freedoms". (So he'd have no hesitation in crushing a strike about low pay.) In 2014 Al Baker said he wanted planes to use Heathrow 24-hours a day and he was callous enough to dismiss concerns by saying people would get used to it. In Al Baker's world, the only thing that matters is profit for foreign investors.
Bizarrely, the Unite union supports Al Baker and the Heathrow Board's plans to expand Heathrow. So why are its members in BA cabin crew striking over "poverty pay"? Aren't these exactly the sort of airport jobs that Unite says it wants when it bangs on about supporting a third runway?
Thanks to Al Baker and Qatar Airways, BA can say that all its passengers will get to their destinations and it will operate 99.5 per cent of its schedule. The strike will be pointless.
Despite claims that Heathrow runs close to full capacity, planes fly with a huge number of empty seats. That will enable BA to merge long-haul services. Two flights tomorrow will be cancelled completely but it won't have any impact on the BA promise to get every customer to their destination.
Unite is supporting the very companies that are keeping their members' wages low.
Unite bosses know their members' strike will have little or no impact and intend to complain. That is unlikely to help their members on "poverty pay", who still have to pay the inflated salaries of the Unite bosses.
In 2014 Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey secured a 3.7% pay rise taking his £135,211 pay and pension package to £140,281 a year. In fact subscriptions from its member, including those on "poverty pay" helped give all Unite union employees a 3.7% pay rise.
Let's see what the BA cabin crew achieve.