YESTERDAY the News Line was informed by the London Region Office of the TGWU that the Gate Gourmet hardship fund was closed and that the last payment of the hardship fund has been made to the locked out workers.
Gate Gourmet, the international air flight catering company, will be cheering Tony Woodley from the rooftops for this latest stab in the back for the locked out workers, delivered on their behalf.
The workers were sacked and locked out last August 10 by Gate Gourmet in order to bring in the company’s ‘survival plan’, and completely new terms and conditions of service.
These locked out workers have been heroically fighting for close to six months for a return to their jobs on their old terms and conditions and are now suffering considerable hardship.
Their fight is in the interest of every trade unionist, and in the interest of the TGWU and every one of its members – to beat union busting slave labour employers. They will treat this latest attempt of the TGWU leadership to starve them into submission on behalf of Gate Gourmet, with all of the contempt that this action deserves.
When they were locked out on August 10th the whole country was shocked at the way that they had been treated, and the union leaders were forced to echo that shock.
On August 10th the TGWU leader Tony Woodley said: ‘There cannot be a worker in the country who would condone Gate Gourmet’s attack on this workforce.’
His Secretary for Aviation, Brendan Gold said: ‘Gate Gourmet’s behaviour strikes at the very heart of this community, and it strikes at the heart of the TGWU. We will simply not accept it.’
Brendan Barber, the TUC leader said: ‘You have the support of the whole trade union movement.’
On September 12th the TUC Congress carried a resolution of full support for the locked out workers and for unions to take all action in support of them, short of illegal action.
Two weeks after these brave words Woodley and the TGWU leaders, supported by Barber, sold out completely to Gate Gourmet. They signed a Compromise Agreement, agreeing to over 144 compulsory redundancies, hundreds of voluntary redundancies, and that all workers would sign a compromise agreement giving away their right to go to an industrial tribunal or to take other legal action against the company, and that until every worker had signed this agreement no worker would get the pittance of compensation that was offered.
As well, those workers who were redundant would have to agree to never applying to Gate Gourmet for a job in the future, or in any firm that Gate Gourmet is associated with.
The Gate Gourmet locked out workers are not slaves. They have refused to sign this compromise agreement. After months of pressure from the company and its partner the TGWU leadership, just 200 workers have signed the deal, leaving 460 locked out workers with cases before an industrial tribunal.
Last week the TGWU leaders sent the locked out workers an unsigned letter threatening that the union’s solicitor might not represent them at the forthcoming tribunals. Yesterday the Regional Office of the TGWU confirmed that there will be no more hardship payments.
Every branch, area and regional body of the TGWU, plus its executive, must rise up and smash this attempt to turn the TGWU into a company union. The hardship fund must be restored and the dispute made official.
Workers and youth must attend the News Line-Gate Gourmet conference this Sunday (see ad front page) to organise for the victory of the Gate Gourmet workers and for the removal of the union leaders who have tried to sell them out.