THE sacked Gate Gourmet workers were locked out almost six months ago on August 10th-11th 2005 by a management and an owner that was determined to replace them with a cheap labour workforce on completely new terms and conditions, stipulated in the company’s survival plan.
The ruthless and provocative management action angered the whole of the country, and there was widespread support for the action of BA’s baggage handlers when they walked off the job in solidarity with the locked out workers.
The leadership of the TGWU sent the baggage handlers back to work, but the TGWU leader, Tony Woodley, pledged to the over 700 locked out workers that the union would see to it that they were all returned to their jobs before the union would negotiate over anything else.
The TGWU leaders refused to make the dispute official, but such was the huge national support for the locked out workers that the TUC Congress, meeting in the second week in September, passed a resolution unanimously giving full support to the locked out workers, and urging all trade unions to give every support, short of illegal action to return the workers to their jobs.
Just two weeks after this resolution was carried, the TGWU leaders capitulated to the Company, signing a compromise agreement with Gate Gourmet which accepted its survival plan, plus hundreds of redundancies, over 144 of them compulsory, and which required workers to sign an agreement that they would not seek employment in the future with Gate Gourmet or any associated or affiliated company, and stipulated that not a single worker would receive any compensation until every worker had signed the agreement giving up their tribunal and other legal rights.
Not being slaves, 500 of the locked out workers have refused to accept this disgraceful sell-out, and have demanded that the union leaders fight for their reinstatement on their old terms and conditions, and for payment of all of their back wages.
Not only have the union leaders refused to do this, the locked out workers yesterday received an unsigned, anonymous threatening letter from the union stating that, unless they sought re-engagement with Gate Gourmet, union solicitors would be told to examine whether they had a valid tribunal case against the company, meaning that the union leaders would seek to renege on their responsibility to provide a solicitor for a member with a case before an industrial tribunal.
No wonder the letter was unsigned. It was an anonymous threatening letter.
This current TGWU leadership is serving Gate Gourmet, the firm that Tony Woodley called ‘gangster capitalist’, and not its hard-pressed membership that has been locked out for almost six months.
The whole union membership in the branches, regions and on the NEC must take up this matter and put an end to the insatiable desire of Woodley and Co. to serve Gate Gourmet and stab their members in the back.
This dispute must be made official. There must be official dispute pay. The tribunal cases must be pushed forward. Every union should be called on to activate the TUC resolution and call a national demonstration in support of the locked out Gate Gourmet workers and their right to immediate reinstatement on their old terms and conditions, along with adequate compensation.
If the TGWU leaders will not do this they must be forced to resign and be replaced by leaders who will. All those who support this struggle must come to the News Line-Gate Gourmet conference on Sunday 29th January (see advert front page) to help organise for the victory of the Gate Gourmet workers.