[Marxism] BA Flights Resume at Heathrow (BBC News)

Jscotlive at aol.com Jscotlive at aol.com
Fri Aug 12 23:01:13 MDT 2005


British Airways has resumed limited  flights from Heathrow airport, the 
airline announced.
The flights come after two thirds of BA staff  who took part in an unofficial 
strike earlier returned to work. The  action had been in support of hundreds 
of employees of Gate Gourmet  who were dismissed on Wednesday in a dispute 
over working  practices. 
The airline had earlier responded to the strike  by cancelling all flights to 
and from the airport, and there were  growing fears that the disruption could 
continue for several dayTens  of thousands of passengers were stranded 
because of the dispute,  which caused travel chaos in one of the busiest weeks of 
the year  for the airline industry. 
BA paid for 4,000 passengers to stay in hotels  on Thursday while several 
hundred others slept in the terminals in  the hope services would soon return to 
normal. A huge marquee was  erected to accommodate passengers who turned up 
despite being urged  to stay away from the airport. 
Just before 6pm, BA announced it was resuming a  limited number of flights 
from Heathrow, although disruption was  expected to continue. Passengers 
remained disgruntled about the lack  of information being passed to them. 
Susan and Graham Webster from Sydney, Australia  said they were £600 out of 
pocket as a result of the disruption. The  couple, who are due to fly to 
Singapore at 9.30pm before flying home  twodays later, booked an extra two nights 
accommodation in London  and Singapore just in case their flight was cancelled 
because they  did not want to end up with nowhere to go. 
Mrs Webster said communication with passengers  had been "very poor''. 
"We both work in the emergency services in  Australia and we are used to good 
communication when a disaster is  on. 
"They could have done a lot more. It was  obviously lacking at the critical 
The resumption of flights followed an agreement  by managers from Gate 
Gourmet to meet officials from the Transport  and General Workers Union to try to 
resolve the sackings row. 
The two sides met at a hotel near Heathrow  under the chairmanship of the 
conciliation service Acas. 
Analysts said the disruption was set to lose BA  up to £40 million because of 
the refunds, loss of flight revenues  and the cost of putting passengers up 
in hotels. 
BA's flights would normally have been busy in  the past few days as people 
went on holiday during the height of the  summer season. The union held a mass 
meeting for many of the Gate  Gourmet workers who were sacked. 
Brendan Gold, the union's national officer,  said the TGWU was determined to 
try to win back the jobs of the 800  workers he said had been sacked. 
He said the workers had been left "angry and  upset'' and now faced an 
uncertain future. The union revealed that  some workers who had been off sick this 
week had been sent letters  telling them they were being dismissed. 
One man said he had put in an offer on a house  and had been left "totally 
devastated'' by what had happened this  week. The company maintained that 670 
workers had been sacked,  claiming they had taken unofficial industrial action.  




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