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BA's Willie Walsh 'trying to divide Unite'

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 23 May 2010

The national secretary of the SWP, which disrupted BA strike talks, tells Channel 4 News the intimidation of Willie Walsh was nothing compared to what BA is doing to its workers.

SWP protest against BA

Martin Smith told Channel 4 News the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) believes Willie Walsh is one of the worst bullying managers in this country.

He told Alex Thomson Mr Walsh is "part of a whole attempt to making working-class people and the poor pay for their cuts" – that is why the SWP disrupted the talks.

Mr Smith rejected the assertion by Unite's Tony Woodley that the action on Saturday by SWP supporters had had a "catastrophic" effect on the negotiations. "Far from us being the people who disrupted the negotiations," he said, "it's clear Willie Walsh has not once negotiated with the union.

"He wants to bully and intimidate workers, and I think it's right that we make a stand against him."

The SWP national secretary said the intimidation to which Willie Walsh had been subjected was "nothing compared to sacking workers or disciplining over 45 workers, sacking seven others, cutting their wages".

He continued: "Do you really believe that the SWP, with 100 people causing a 10-minute protest, could stop negotiations between one of the most powerful multinational companies in this country and a trade union."

"It's clear from his attack today, Willie Walsh is trying to divide the union from its own members – and us from them."

Mr Smith stressed that there was no attempt to invade the talks at all. He explained that the SWP supporters "arrived outside the venue, the doors were open, we walked in, we got on the wrong floor, and Willie Walsh was in a corridor on the phone, talking to his management".

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