|The News Line: News
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
GATE GOURMET IS FACING HUGE FINE – lawyers plead it had to sack first and ask questions later
GATE GOURMET has admitted at a Reading employment tribunal, hearing eight of the remaining 70 cases, that it wrongfully dismissed the eight at Heathrow Airport on August 10 2005.
The eight had all been off work sick, or on holiday or on compassionate leave when they were sacked.
Gate Gourmet now faces huge fines as well as major compensation claims for loss of earnings and pensions, plus claims for causing stress and sickness, as well as other claims, including the loss of homes.
A Gate Gourmet lawyer claimed that the company had had to ‘dismiss first and hold meetings later’ to establish the facts of individual cases. He pleaded with the Tribunal to limit the compensation payments.
Judges are meeting today to discuss the eight cases and are expected to announce their ruling concerning fines and compensation in a few weeks time.
But locked out Gate Gourmet worker Parmjit Bains told News Line yesterday: ‘Why only eight people, why not 800 people? They wrongfully dismissed all of us.
‘It shows we were right not to sign the Compromise Agreement.
‘From Day One I was telling people the company was wrong.
‘Shame on those union leaders who told us to sign the Compromise Agreement, who kept saying our case was weak and we should give up our right to go to employment tribunals.
‘We said our case is not weak, our leaders are weak.
‘I’m very pleased. Eight people have won and now maybe we will all win.’
Sacked TGWU shop steward Harbinder Singh told News Line: ‘It was a good indication for all the people and it indicates that people were right not to sign the Compromise Agreement.
‘The Gate Gourmet solicitor admitted that they had wrongfully sacked the people who were on holiday and on rest day and on sick.
‘In fact they wrongfully dismissed everyone.
‘The company is now struggling and they are indicating that they would accept people back. People are leaving the job and they haven’t got enough drivers.
‘Many people I knew are leaving the company.’
Gate Gourmet TGWU Branch Secretary, Jarnail Singh told News Line: ‘After two and a half years at last we’ve heard something. Now the company will get a really bad name.
‘I called my solicitor on Friday after I heard about the ruling. I’ve heard my case is in February.
‘Every company wants to do what Gate Gourmet did.’
Locked out worker Lakhinder Saran said: ‘One of the ladies who worked with us, her husband was in hospital on sick when he received the letter.
‘There were many such cases of people who were on holiday and on sick who were sacked. So far only eight have won their cases but there will be many more.
‘We were all unfairly dismissed. We are still struggling and will fight on until we win and we won’t give up.
‘The company must be made to pay for what it did.’
A Tribunal spokeswoman told News Line yesterday that a further 70 cases are to be heard early next year.
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