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Cabin crew collectivism: labour process and the roots of mobilization

Taylor, Phil; Moore, Sian


Phil Taylor

Sian Moore


© The Author(s) 2014. The protracted dispute (2009–11) between British Airways and BASSA (British Airways Stewards and Stewardesses Association) was notable for the strength of collective action by cabin crew. In-depth interviews reveal collectivism rooted in the labour process and highlight the key agency of BASSA in effectively articulating worker interests. This data emphasizes crews’ relative autonomy, sustained by unionate on-board Cabin Service Directors who have defended the frontier of control against managerial incursions. Periodic attempts to re-configure the labour process, driven by cost cutting imperatives in an increasingly competitive airline industry, eroded crews’ organizational loyalties. When BA imposed radical changes to contracts and working arrangements, BASSA successfully mobilized its membership. The article contributes to labour process analysis by emphasizing the collective dimensions to emotional labour, restoring the ‘missing subject’, but also articulating the interconnections between labour process and mobilization and the role unions can play in providing the organizational and ideological resources to legitimate worker interest.


Taylor, P., & Moore, S. (2015). Cabin crew collectivism: labour process and the roots of mobilization. Work, Employment and Society, 29(1), 79-98.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Journal Work, Employment and Society
Print ISSN 0950-0170
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 1
Pages 79-98
Keywords British Airways, strike, labour process, mobilisation, emotional labour, trade unions, gender, collectivism, management, industrial management, organizational behavior and human resource management
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