TALKS at Congress House last Tuesday, between the Trades Union Congress, the T&G and Gate Gourmet management were busy discussing the company’s ‘compromise agreement’.
Gate Gourmet are insisting that all workers sign away their right to claim unfair dismissal at an Industrial Tribunal, before any of the locked-out workers are allowed back into the factory.
It is also insisting that all workers must sign this agreement before any of those who want to take redundancy are paid out.
On top, it is also insisting that hundreds of the locked out workers will not be allowed back, which includes some stewards, and those it calls ‘trouble makers’.
In other words, it is trying to break the trade union organisation, while proposing new terms and conditions for the workers.
What is being proposed by the management in its compromise plan is not reinstatement, but re-engagement of some of the workers, which means new terms and conditions.
It plans to cut the workforce by at least 700, introduce wage cuts – all in order to meet the demanding contract by British Airways.
BA are forcing through cost-cutting, including the contracts for in-flight catering because of soaring oil prices.
As these talks proceed, Gate Gourmet workers must be warned. T&G General Secretary Tony Woodley and other leading union officials will still be discussing the company’s ‘compromise agreement’ again tomorrow.
Any part of this package, if accepted by them, will be a complete betrayal of the 670 locked out workers.
The T&G must be told by the Gate Gourmet shop stewards that there is no going back on the reinstatement of all the locked-out workers on their existing terms and conditions of employment.
Woodley promised everyone would go back together and this remains the issue of the day.
Gate Gourmet workers would do well to remember Woodley’s role at Vauxhall in Luton and at Rover in Birmingham. Having promised that ‘not a single job would be lost’; the T&G proceeded to allow Vauxhall to close and Rover to be sold off, losing tens of thousands of jobs, on the grounds that ‘nothing more could be done’.
The T&G are allowing their members to be divided. Having organised that the T&G members at BA return to work, they have left the locked-out Gate Gourmet workers to fight on their own.
But the TUC unanimously decided that it would support the Gate Gourmet workers at its Congress last week.
When the RMT rail union leader Bob Crow spoke in support of the Gate Gourmet workers’ struggle at the TUC he said: ‘What’s the difference if it’s official or unofficial action? The issue is was it effective? It was!’
Urgently other workers must be organised to take action in support of the Gate Gourmet workers.
These ‘bandit employers’, such as Gate Gourmet, if they get away with it today, will carry out the same union-busting and wage-cutting in firms up and down the country.
If companies such as BA and Gate Gourmet are in financial difficulties, then they should be renationalised.
Immediately it is necessary to call on the shop stewards at Heathrow Airport to take action again. One day’s action, last time, knocked BA and the Gate Gourmet management for six. All out action would win the Gate Gourmet dispute!
Stewards at Gate Gourmet must stand firm for their members and demand such action and the compromise agreement must be completely thrown out.
Meanwhile those stewards that took strike action previously at Heathrow are now being disciplined. They must be defended.
The jobs and futures of all these workers are on the line. Only united action by the working class can win this battle.
Behind the Gate Gourmet workers stand millions of workers supporting their fight. They must be mobilised to take strike action as the only answer to this rotten so-called ‘compromise agreement’.