THE Gate Gourmet strikers are fighting in the most determined fashion to win back their jobs in the face of a hostile union busting management.
Their determination to win their jobs back has also brought them into conflict with the leaders of the TGWU, which even before the dispute began, had agreed with the company that there needed to be around 675 redundancies and a company survival programme.
The Agreed Framework signed by Gate Gourmet, Bob Gold for the TGWU and Brendan Barber for the TUC on August 25th, confirms this.
It states: ‘Through discussions earlier this year between Gate Gourmet and the T&G, the parameters of the company survival plan to establish long term viability had been agreed in principle which involves a total workforce reduction of the order of 675 people.’
On August 25th, the representative of the TGWU and the general secretary of the TUC both signed up to the ‘company survival plan’ and to a ‘total workforce reduction of the order of 675 people’.
That this was a complete sell-out of the locked out workers is obvious. They were demanding that everyone should be returned to their jobs.
The leaders of the TGWU and the TUC, in signing the ‘Agreed Framework’ were acting for the company.
The TGWU leaders then went on to urge the strikers to sign up individually for a pittance of two weeks compensation for every year that they had worked for the company.
This was an attempt to split the workforce that failed. The proof of that is that Gate Gourmet had to extend the deadline for acceptance of their qualified compensation offer to next Thursday, and add to their offer an extra six weeks pay, so poor was the response to the joint union-boss appeal.
The locked out workers are now on the picket line, enduring considerable hardship, many of them with families to keep and mortgages to pay. They are determined to get their jobs back, because without them many will lose their homes, and their families will suffer greatly.
The locked out workers know what has to be done to win the struggle.
This is, that the BA baggage handlers must be asked to take sympathy action with them once again, to bring BA and Gate Gourmet to their knees.
The TGWU leaders refuse to take this action, and are willing to live with hundreds of workers not getting their jobs back, and being dumped into the abyss, including the TGWU shop stewards.
Instead, the TGWU leaders have opted for a cynical exercise. They have announced that they will be moving an emergency resolution at the TUC Congress. However, this resolution will not be calling on the TUC trade unions to take sympathy action with the Gate Gourmet workers to defeat a company that TGWU leader Woodley has called a ‘bandit employer’.
The resolution will seek to make propaganda out of the ‘tragedy’ that has befallen the Gate Gourmet workers, to urge the Labour government to slightly loosen the anti-union laws.
Woodley is urging workers to accept a pittance of compensation, and a disastrous loss of their jobs, in order that he can make a bit of anti-union law propaganda.
This is a shameful, cynical course to take.
Any emergency resolution at the TUC Congress must be a call for sympathy action to win the strike, and the Gate Gourmet workers must get down to Brighton in force to see that this is what is done.
The days of bowing and scraping in front of unjust anti-union laws and sacrificing workers’ jobs and lives to fall in line with them are over!
They must also see to it that their shop stewards organise to bring Heathrow airport out in a sympathy strike to win their struggle.