THIS Sunday locked out Gate Gourmet workers will be marching through Southall determined to win their jobs back after a bosses’ coup last August 10 saw them locked out of the plant, and summarily dismissed, by a management that said that it would never work again with the local community.
There is not the slightest doubt that they are fighting on behalf of the whole of the working class, which is now menaced by an employing class and a government determined to turn Britain into a paradise for slave labour employers.
The locked out Gate Gourmet workers are heroes and heroines of the British working class for sure.
That is more than can be said for the leaders of the Transport and General Workers Union.
After initially pledging that every worker would be returned to their job before the union would be prepared to discuss anything else, the TGWU leaders quickly caved into Gate Gourmet, using the anti-union laws as a pretext, and signed a sweetheart deal with them which gave the bosses everything that they wanted including more than 144 compulsory sackings.
They signed the deal just two weeks after a mass lobby, by 300 Gate Gourmet workers, of the TUC Congress led to a resolution being moved by TGWU leader Woodley, which was passed unanimously, which pledged every support to the locked out workers to win their struggle, short of illegal action.
Just two weeks after this, TUC leader Barber and TGWU leader Woodley negotiated a ‘Compromise Agreement’ that required every worker to sign a form giving up all their employment rights, and legal rights to take action against the company, including an agreement that they would never seek a job in the future with Gate Gourmet or any of its affiliates or associates.
Every one of the locked out workers would have to sign away their rights, before a single worker would be able to receive a pittance of ‘compensation’. In return for this ‘compromise’ there were to be over 144 workers made compulsorily redundant, 160 made voluntarily redundant and the remainder would be eligible to apply for re-engagement as new starters, on new terms and conditions in line with the company’s ‘survival plan’ that the TGWU leaders now accepted.
The locked out workers would not accept this deal and it has collapsed. The TGWU leaders, learning nothing, have embraced the company even more brazenly, and are now dashing around seeking to get as many workers as possible to sign away their employment rights.
They are telling those who will not sign the Compromise Agreement that the dispute will be over on December 16, that the picket has got to end, and that hardship payments are stopping on December 6th.
They are telling locked out workers to accept the Compromise Agreement or else they will be cut off without a penny.
The TGWU leaders are acting like leaders of a company trade union, representing the boss and not the workers.
In a situation where workers up and down the country are coming under fierce attack, this kind of ‘leadership’ is the kiss of death, and is opening up the way for the bosses to establish a slave labour Britain.
The reality of the situation is that if the Gate Gourmet workers are beaten, then the TGWU leaders will have opened up the way for the BA boss, Walsh, to turn the move to Terminal Five into his own Wapping, an operation to drive the TGWU out of the airport.
Workers who march this Sunday with the Gate Gourmet locked out workers must take up the fight, throughout the length and breadth of the trade union movement, to force the TGWU leaders to take action to win the dispute, or resign and make way for leaders who will. The same message must be delivered to the TUC leader Barber.