Cabin crew collectivism: labour process and the roots of mobilisation

Philip Taylor, Sian Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


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 ‘managers’ 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-98
Number of pages20
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015


  • british airways
  • strike
  • labour process
  • mobilisation
  • emotional labour
  • trade unions
  • gender
  • collectivism


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