Locked out Gate Gourmet workers, trade unionists and youth, held a successful over 150-strong mass picket on the mound near the Beacon roundabout at Heathrow airport last Sunday morning.
They kept up chants ‘No to the Compromise Agreement! We want out jobs back! Down, down Gate Gourmet!’
They also chanted against the betrayal of Transport and General Workers’ Union general secretary Tony Woodley and national aviation officer Brendan Gold.
They shouted: ‘Tony Woodley, no more! Brendan Gold, no more!’
Locked out worker Sharan Kaur told News Line at the picket: ‘We are determined to win.
‘We are looking forward to a successful conference next Sunday.
‘We trust ourselves that we are going to win.
‘The News Line-Gate Gourmet conference will give us support.
‘It is important for people to come, to understand why we are here.
‘We will be discussing the role of the trade union leaders.
‘We can’t trust them. We have no faith in Tony Woodley and all the other T&G leaders.
‘It’s nearly six months and they don’t help us.
‘We are the union. we need union leaders we can trust and that fight for our rights.
‘The picket today is great. It’s cold and a Sunday, yet we have a good turnout. News Line helps us a lot.’
Sacked worker Amar Want added: ‘It’s a good picket today.
‘We won’t sign the Compromise Agreement, it’s not a fair deal.
‘The union leaders are selling us out.’
Parmjeet Sidhu condemned an unsigned letter with a T&G heading that has been sent to a number of the locked out workers who refuse to sign the Compromise Agreement.
She told News Line: ‘It said if we do not sign the Compromise Agreement the union solicitor will check the file and take up cases if he thinks they will be successful.
‘This is putting more pressure on us. whoever sent that letter is doing wrong.
‘We are struggling every day in the cold weather.
‘We haven’t had our hardship pay this month, and I’m not getting Jobseekers Allowance.
‘I can’t pay my Council Tax and have been threatened with being taken to court because I haven’t paid it for two months.
‘The trade union leaders are not doing their job. They think of themselves not the workers.’
Urmi Sami added: ‘Today’s picket is brilliant!
‘The union leaders are no good, especially Tony Woodley. They said they would get all our jobs back but they haven’t.
‘This letter is to threaten the workers who won’t sign the Compromise Agreement.
‘There’s no signature on the bottom and a T&G heading at the top.That’s no good. It’s not right.
‘Anyway, we are taking no notice of it.
‘We are looking forward to next Sunday’s conference. It is very important. We need support.
‘We are standing up for our rights. We want everyone to come along.
‘Everyone has to win. We are not slaves.’
CWU south west London rep. Billy Colvill was among a number of trade unionists on the picket.
He said: ‘I’ve come here to show support for the locked out Gate Gourmet workers.
‘It’s criminal the way they have been treated by their employers and by the leadership of their union.
‘They were told at the TUC conference that the Gate Gourmet workers would receive full support.
‘The TUC must honour that.
‘If the likes of Brendan Gold and Tony Woodley won’t keep to their words, then they should go.
‘That is why I’m going to the conference on January 29th and will bring a delegation from my branch.
‘I urge all trade unionists to attend.
‘The unsigned letter that has been going round, telling Gate Gourmet workers who have not signed the Compromise Agreement is to put pressure on people to give in. That’s disgusting.’
Hounslow local government UNISON chairman Richard Lugg added: ‘The letter that has been circulated without a signature to all workers who will not support the Compromise Agreement is a disgrace.
‘It appears to imply that the T&G will not represent their own members who have refused to accept the sell-out.
‘Instead, the union leaders appear to be busy signing a sweetheart deal with Gate Gourmet.
‘The letter is clearly designed to worry and intimidate members and end the determined resistance to the disgraceful sackings.
‘This makes next Sunday’s conference doubly important and I urge all trade unionists to attend and bring the support of their branches.’
Malkiat Bilku of Hillingdon UNISON health branch said: ‘My branch has passed a resolution to donate £50 to the Gate Gourmet hardship fund and to send a delegation to next Sunday’s conference.
‘They voted to fully support the Gate Gourmet workers.’
Southall GP, Dr Banu also joined the picket.
She said: ‘I support the locked out Gate Gourmet workers. They have been treated badly.
‘They have family responsibilities and they need their income as everybody does.
‘They should be taken back on their original terms and not some other terms.’
A number of Young Socialists members told News Line why they were at the picket.
Peter Alexander, Hackney YS, said: ‘I came because I support the Gate Gourmet struggle.
‘I don’t agree with the unfairness and harassment the workers have had to suffer.
‘If we don’t win this one, then it’s going to spread everywhere.
‘So we have to make a stand here and it has to get bigger.
‘The union leaders should really be taking up a stand for the workers.
‘They are supposed to represent the workers, not be selling them out.
‘The union leaders must make it clear they are with us not against us.’
Cherish Williams, Burnt Oak YS, added: ‘I support Gate Gourmet workers.
‘It’s wrong what they have been doing to them – sacking them and giving their jobs to other people for a lesser wage.
‘It’s important for young people because it could happen to them. We don’t want a future as cheap labour.
‘I’m coming to the conference next Sunday, we all have to win.’
Komakech Kono, Lewisham YS, said: ‘The picket today is good.
‘Although it’s cold, it’s worthwhile being here to support the sacked workers.
‘It’s important young people support these workers because it affects their future.
‘It is important the Gate Gourmet workers win because if we don’t and the Gate Gourmet workers fail to secure this victory, the employees in other industries will be attacked by the capitalists.
‘It’s only by supporting the Gate Gourmet workers that the government will realise it will not easily push working people aside.’