YESTERDAY the trade union bureaucracy was skating on the thinnest of thin ice at the TUC Congress.
With one hand, trade union leader after trade union leader pledged complete support for the struggle of the Gate Gourmet locked out workers, while with the other they voted for a resolution that pledged ‘full support’ but tagged on the end that such 100 per cent support must not be in violation of the anti-union laws.
It really was scoundrel time as TGWU leader Woodley declared: ‘The anti-union laws are a charter for cowboy capitalists, a charter for bullying. They should go now. Right now, not tomorrow.’ He added for good measure: ‘If solidarity is a crime then send us all to jail’.
However, he is the leader who ordered the BA baggage handlers back to work to end their sympathy strike in support of the Gate Gourmet workers. He also helped draw up the TUC emergency resolution pledging full support ‘by all legal means’.
Woodley has been unbalanced by the most determined resistance of the Gate Gourmet strikers to any attempt to sell their jobs. While moving the motion he dared not mention the dreaded ‘r’ word – redundancy.
While desperately seeking to make a deal with the ‘bandit capitalists’ and sell out his members, he conceded the weakness of his position at the TUC yesterday when he agreed that the massive resistance of the working class might yet force the trade unions into ‘illegal’ solidarity action ‘to defend our rights’.
Woodley is an opportunist who has been found out and is being remorselessly undermined by the militancy of his members.
TUC leader Barber’s support for Gate Gourmet workers is of the same stripe. He is one of the signatories to the ‘Agreed Framework’, which stipulates that there will be up to 675 redundancies at Gate Gourmet plus the adoption of the management’s ‘survival measures’.
Yesterday he said that the TUC is giving the Gourmet workers its ‘full support’.
However, other leaders spoke out in a much less compromised fashion, reflecting the anger of the working class at the anti-union laws, and the admiration that workers have for the Gourmet strikers.
The GMB’s Acting General Secretary Kenny said: ‘We pledge our solidarity’.
The RMT’s Bob Crow declared that the Gate Gourmet workers should be ‘congratulated’ and that the movement had been built through solidarity action.
CWU leader Billy Hayes pledged the CWU’s ‘total support’.
Alan Dudson, West Midlands GMB asbestos officer, said: ‘There’s got to be strike action in support of the Gate Gourmet workers and it must be called this week.’
Danny McLellan, Gloucestershire Amicus, said: ‘It is definitely not acceptable that the T&G leaders have done a deal for redundancy. The Gate Gourmet workers must all get their jobs back.’
National Union of Mineworkers President Ian Lavery told News Line: ‘We support the Gate Gourmet workers emphatically, 100 per cent. We must take industrial action, whether it’s legal or not, to overturn the anti-union legislation, so we can get back to what the trade unions were founded for.’
These leaders must be held to their pledges and promises. The Gate Gourmet shop stewards must meet and call on all BA workers to come out in their support once again, to get their jobs back.
All trade unions that have pledged full support must be also called on to take sympathy strike action to defeat Gate Gourmet, and destroy the anti-union laws with one blow.