Labour's David Lammy 'sorry' not supporting check-in workers' strike
Now Labour frontbencher David Lammy APOLOGISES for refusing to support striking British Airways check-in staff who are poised to cause more travel misery as he calls on airline to boost workers’ pay by 10 per cent
- Labour’s David Lammy apologises for previous refusal to support check-in staff
- Shadow foreign secretary provoked fury among union leaders with TV interview
- He now calls on British Airways to give workers a 10 per cent salary hike
Labour frontbencher David Lammy today apologised for his previous refusal to support a strike by British Airways’ check-in staff.
The shadow foreign secretary this week provoked fury among trade union leaders after declaring he did not back the planned walkout by airline workers.
But Mr Lammy has now performed a U-turn and said sorry for ‘getting it wrong’, as he urged British Airways to give their employees a 10 per cent salary hike.
The latest muddle over Labour’s position on strikes came after a group of the party’s front bench defied orders not to join picket lines in support of rail workers last week.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today defended a decision not to sack those who had ignored his plea to steer clear of public support for the RMT union’s strike.
Sir Keir’s position on the national rail strikes – as well as Mr Lammy’s remarks about the action by British Airways staff – has strained Labour’s relations with its union backers.
British Airways workers who are members of the Unite union recently voted in favour of strike action, which threatens to deepen the misery being suffered by holidaymakers at UK airports this summer.
Their action is being pursued as a means of putting pressue on bosses to restore a 10 per cent pay cut made during the Covid pandemic.
British Airways are accused of restoring the slashed pay – made under ‘fire and rehire’ tactics – to management but not check-in staff.
David Lammy this week provoked fury among trade union leaders after declaring he did not back the planned walkout by airline workers
British Airways workers who are members of the Unite union recently voted in favour of strike action, which threatens to deepen the misery being suffered by holidaymakers at UK airports this summer
The shadow foreign secretary has now performed a U-turn and said sorry for ‘getting it wrong’, as he urged British Airways to give their employees a 10 per cent salary hike
In a TV interview on Sunday, Mr Lammy was ‘categorical’ in saying he did not support the check-in workers’ strike.
‘Many of us might want a rise of 10 per cent, in truth, most people understand it’s unlikely that you’re going to get that,’ he told the BBC’s Sunday Morning show.
Pressed on whether he supported the planned action, the Tottenham MP added: ‘No, I don’t. No I don’t – it is a no, it’s a categorical no.’
In response to Mr Lammy’s comments about the strike, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham – whose union is one of Labour’s biggest financial backers – accused the shadow minister of ‘supporting bad bosses’.
‘David Lammy has chosen to launch a direct attack on British Airways workers,’ she said.
‘This is a group of workers who were savagely attacked by their employer during Covid.
‘Fire and rehire led to thousands of unnecessary job cuts and pay being slashed.
‘This dispute is not about a pay rise – it’s about restoring money taken out of workers’ pockets by an opportunistic employer.
‘British Airways and its parent company IAG hold billions in reserves and assets and are predicting a return to profit this quarter.’
But Mr Lammy has now backed down and apologised for his previous comments.
He posted on Twitter: ‘Those of us in public life should admit our mistakes.
‘That’s why I’m apologising to all BA workers for getting it wrong on Sunday.
‘BA must restore the pay of their loyal workforce – and the Government must sit down with employers and workers to address chronic low pay in aviation.’
Mr Lammy also penned a letter to constituents in which he claimed to have ‘misheard’ the question in the TV interview.
‘When she said that workers wanted to reverse a previous pay cut of 10 per cent, I mistakenly understood it to mean that they were seeking an above-inflation pay rise,’ he wrote.
‘I was not across the details of the case. It is right that those of us in public life admit when they have made a mistake. With this in mind, I apologise to all BA workers.
‘During the pandemic, BA workers were threatened with shameful “fire and rehire” tactics and had their pay slashed.
‘That’s why I supported Labour’s call for “fire and rehire” to be banned in 2020, as well as aviation sector support with a clear commitment to protect skilled workers and working conditions in the industry.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today defended a decision not to sack those who had ignored his plea to steer clear of public support for the RMT union’s strike
Meanwhile, Sir Keir today said it was ‘satisfactory’ for Labour frontbenchers who attended the RMT strikes against his orders to continue in their jobs.
It is understood party chief whip Alan Campbell spoke to the five frontbenchers, including shadow minister Alex Sobel and whip Nav Mirsha.
They are to be sent letters about their conduct in the future but were being permitted to stay in their roles for the time being.
Speaking during a visit to the Sanatan Mandir temple in Crawley, West Sussex, Sir Keir said: ‘I was very clear that a responsible government gets the negotiating parties around the table, that’s why I took the approach I did.
‘The chief whip has now dealt with those that didn’t follow the advice and that’s a perfectly satisfactory outcome.’
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