A MASS meeting of the 710 TGWU trade union members, sacked and locked-out at Gate Gourmet, will take place at the Monsoon Club in Southall, this afternoon.
At this meeting TGWU officials will outline a deal, agreed under the auspices of Brendan Barber, the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, between T&G leaders and the multinational company, owned by venture capitalists Texas Pacific.
Gate Gourmet and the TGWU leaders agreed not to release details of the deal until this afternoon for fear of a backlash by the locked-out workers against plans for mass sackings and the victimisation of some of their shop stewards.
However, the 11-page provisional agreement was read out to shop stewards representing the sacked Gate Gourmet workers at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, on Monday.
From these reports it is clear that Gate Gourmet is getting everything it wanted from this ‘provisional agreement’, the 700 jobs it wanted to cut in June are to be axed and strong trade unionists put out of the factory. The locked-out workers are not getting any of their demands from this ‘provisional agreement’. From day one, on August 11, they have insisted on reinstatement of all the dismissed workers on their existing terms and conditions.
The company says it will ‘re-engage’ only 395 of the dismissed workers. It has designated another 144 of those sacked workers, who are demanding reinstatement, for compulsory redundancy. There are also seven workers who will be excluded from the plant and get absolutely nothing.
Shop stewards who went to Brighton were told that the union leaders would ask the opinion of the 710 locked-out workers concerning the ‘provisional agreement’. It has also been reported that the 1,500 TGWU members, who have kept Gate Gourmet going during the dispute by working in the plant, will also be asked their opinion.
What does all this mean? Firstly, Gate Gourmet will be able to make 144 workers compulsorily redundant, with the support of the TGWU leaders and the TUC.
Secondly, strong trade unionists, including a number of shop stewards, are to be thrown out of the factory, with the support of the TGWU leaders and the TUC.
Thirdly, nobody is being reinstated. The 395 dismissed workers taken back into the factory will be ‘re-engaged’ on new terms and conditions, with the support of the TGWU leaders and the TUC.
Fourthly, there will be no vote on the ‘provisional agreement’ by the 677 dismissed workers, who have been locked out. The union officials are merely going to ask their opinion, where their views will be considered alongside those who have been scabbing on the dispute.
There must be a vote by all locked-out workers and the ‘provisional agreement’ must be rejected! The scabs have no right to vote away the jobs of those outside the gate.
The way to win reinstatement for all the locked-out workers is to call all TGWU members at Heathrow Airport out on strike in solidarity and for the whole union to support them.
At the Labour conference, on Monday, TGWU General Secretary Tony Woodley and a number of the other union leaders demanded the unions should have the right to take solidarity strike action. This was just a smoke screen to try to hide the Gate Gourmet sell out.
The Gate Gourmet shop stewards must call for a shutdown at Heathrow to force Gate Gourmet to reinstate all the locked-out workers on their existing terms and conditions.
If the company threatens to go bust, the factory must be occupied by the workforce and a fight waged to nationalise it.
This is the way to win reinstatement at Gate Gourmet and defend all the trade unions at the airport. As far as the TGWU leaders and the TUC leader are concerned, they must be sacked for their treachery straight away.