THIS Sunday December 4th the Gate Gourmet sacked workers will be marching through Southall to demand that every one of the 700 locked out workers is reinstated to their job at their established wage rates and conditions of service.
This march is vitally important for every worker, and must be supported by the whole of the organised working class.
The bosses are plotting to bring in cheap labour rates in every part of the country and are watching what is happening at Gate Gourmet. Victory for the Gate Gourmet workers will be a victory for every worker in the country. Defeat will be a defeat for all workers, and lead to employers all over the country employing the same tactic.
The bosses’ tactic is to organise a scab labour force, and then to lock out the established workforce, to bring in a ‘survival plan’ which cuts wages and greatly worsens conditions. This survival plan had already been rejected by the workers and their trade union, the TGWU, in a ballot.
The workers stood up to the shock of the lock-out and immediately began to picket the plant and were supported by BA baggage handlers walking off the job, an action that brought Gate Gourmet and its BA backer to their knees.
The TGWU leaders however ordered the baggage handlers back to work, citing the anti-union laws, and immediately began to negotiate with the company, assuring it that if everybody was allowed to return to work, the union would give its support to the survival plan.
Accordingly, the union leaders refused to make the dispute official, and TGWU leader Woodley stated that the dispute would not last two weeks.
From that point the dispute took two lines.
The locked out workforce demanded that everybody be returned to their jobs on their established terms and conditions, while the TGWU leaders began to negotiate a ‘compromise deal’ that included compulsory sackings and voluntary redundancies.
The first line led to 300 sacked Gate Gourmet workers lobbying the TUC Congress and under that mass pressure the Congress voting unanimously to support the Gate Gourmet locked out workers with all action, short of illegal action. In the debate Woodley, literally playing to the gallery, declared that he was willing to go to jail.
However, two weeks later the TGWU leaders signed a ‘Compromise Agreement’ with Gate Gourmet. This agreed to 144 compulsory redundancies, up to 160 voluntary redundancies, and a position where not a single worker would get their job back or get any ‘compensation’ for being sacked unless every one of the 700 workers signed a form giving up their employment rights and their right to take the company to law, and agreed that they would not seek work in the future with Gate Gourmet or any of its affiliated or associate companies, ruling out any future airport work.
The locked out workers would not agree to this deal and this deal was never put to a ballot. Instead an attempt was made to impose it.
Now the TGWU leaders say that the dispute will be over on December 16th and on that date all hardship payments to the locked out workers will stop.
The response of the workforce has been to organise their march and rally and to demand that the deal be scrapped, the dispute be made official and the TUC Congress resolution activated to win every worker’s job back.
Every trade unionist must support this march and rally. The whole working class must take a stand against the cheap labour union busting capitalists, and also demand that union leaders must fight them and defeat them, not collaborate with them and open up the whole of the working class to savage attacks.
The march is assembling at 1.00pm at Beresford Road, Southall. At 2.00pm it will march to the Dominion Centre, at the Green, Southall where there will be a rally at 3.00pm. Make sure you come and bring your union banner.