Fight slave labour bosses at Gate Gourmet and Irish Ferries

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THE British and Irish trade unions are under serious and heavy attack at Gate Gourmet at Heathrow airport, and at Irish Ferries.

At Gate Gourmet, in a pre-planned operation over 700 workers were locked out on August 10, because they would not accept the company’s ‘survival plan’, involving huge changes in their terms and conditions of service. The TUC Congress passed a motion of full support for the Gate Gourmet workers and pledged all action short of illegal action to win the dispute.

The Siptu trade union in Ireland is to put a motion to the Irish Congress of Trade unions next Tuesday calling a national demonstration in Dublin against ‘thuggery, exploitation, and the law of the jungle’, personified by the actions of Irish Ferries who are seeking to ‘replace’ established workers on trade union rates and conditions by slave labourers recruited in Eastern Europe.

There is no doubt that this national demonstration will be a general strike.

At this moment, ships’ officers on the Isle of Inishmore ferry have barricaded themselves into the engine room, and are under siege from security guards and 70 Latvian ‘agency workers’.

Another Irish Ferry ship, Ulysses, is docked at Holyhead and has also been boarded by heavies and scabs.

David Cockroft, General Secretary of the International Transport Federation (ITF) commented: ‘This is an astonishing move. . . It might even have been illegal if carried out in the Republic of Ireland.’

However it is not illegal in Blair and Brown’s Britain where the gangmasters are king and trade union leaders keep their heads down.

The British trade unions must put a stop to the union busting that is taking place in Pembroke dock and Holyhead.

Every port in Britain must be shut down until the bully boys and the scabs are withdrawn and the Transport Unions and the TUC must take the lead in this, or bow their heads in shame to the gangmasters

They must also take a hand in winning the struggle against Gate Gourmet.

There, after all the fine speeches at the TUC Congress and the unanimous resolution carried, of full support, TGWU leader Woodley and TUC leader Brendan Barber negotiated a sell-out deal agreeing to 144 compulsory sackings, 160 voluntary redundancies and that every worker must sign a ‘compromise agreement’ selling their right to go to an industrial tribunal, and giving up their right to work at Heathrow for a pittance of ‘compensation’, before any worker could be re-employed under the terms of the employer’s ‘survival plan.’

This dirty deal has collapsed because hundreds of locked out workers have refused to sign the disgraceful ‘compromise agreement’ but that has not stopped TGWU leaders such as national secretary Brendan Gold declaring that the dispute will be terminated by December 6, and with it the payment of hardship pay.

However, trade unions and trade union leaders have a duty to give support to the locked out workers as decided by the resolution that was carried at the TUC Congress. They must carry out the TUC resolution and see that the dispute is made official, that dispute pay must be paid, and that national action is taken to win the struggle and defeat Gate Gourmet.

TUC leaders must support the demonstration called by the locked out workers in Southall for Sunday 4th December.

Now is the time to defeat the slave labour capitalists in Britain and Ireland.