300 people attended a special Third Anniversary concert for the sacked Gate Gourmet workers at Hambrough Primary School in Southall, west London, on Saturday after a packed afternoon bazaar.
Dhol drummer Harbinder Binda, the Rani Jaago dance group, singer Onkar Singh, the Baharan Panjab Diyan dancers and the Punjabi Centre Jago dancers all performed at the concert.
The evening was compèred by Desi Cuts DJs and MCs (Sukh, Kasim, Lucks, Mark, Jitz and Tari), alongside A Touch of Elegance.
During the break, the sacked workers laid on a meal for everyone, and at the end everyone in the audience got up and joined in the dancing.
A collection at the benefit concert raised over £200 extra towards the sacked workers’ struggle.
Earlier in the day, hundreds more people attended the Gate Gourmet sacked workers’ fundraising bazaar at Hambrough school.
Sacked workers leader Parmjit Bains told News Line: ‘It’s a very good occasion.
‘We’re pleased to see so many people come along.
We’ve had big support and that encourages us to carry on the fight.
‘We are all very confident that we will win our case.’
Lakhinder Saran said: ‘We are still fighting for our rights and the meaning of the Third Anniversary today is that we are still getting support from lots of people, lots and lots.
‘We are still fighting because what the union and the company did to us wasn’t right.
‘The union betrayed us and the union supported the company and not the workers.
‘We are demanding (TGWU-Unite leader) Tony Woodley resigns. We should, because after what he did to all his members, he doesn’t deserve the position that he’s got in the union.’
She added: ‘More than 800 of us were sacked in the space of a day. Even people on holiday, people on sick, people on leave.
‘When we went to the canteen, we could see police and security vans there and then they stood in front of the canteen doors.’
She insisted: ‘The union leaders should help their members, they should support the members, not the companies.
‘And we say to the local community, we are fighting for the whole working class, not only ourselves, because what happened to us could happen to anyone.
‘We need their support and we hope they will support us until we win our struggle.’
Binda Singh, a TGWU member at Swissport, Heathrow, said: ‘It’s good to support all workers in struggle.
‘I’m also a member of the union and what happened to the Gate Gourmet workers could happen to me.
‘Gate Gourmet is two to three minutes away from us.
‘Our workplace is on the roundabout and their factory was just down the road and we used to go at lunchtime and support them.
‘The conditions they were putting on them were unacceptable to trade unionists.
‘As you know, everything is expensive these days, so you can’t afford to work for cheap wages.
‘These are people who have been working at Heathrow for 15-20 years and they’ve given their lives for the company.
‘They’ve done everything for the company and now the company are treating them very bad.
‘Some are near retirement age – and over 50 it is very difficult to get the jobs nowadays.
‘I think the unions should fight all employers who try to cut wages, all the way.’
George Boateng, a member of Hounslow Young Socialists, said: ‘I think that the Gate Gourmet workers were wrongly sacked.
‘I think the way they were treated was wrong and I also think it was wrong that they were betrayed by their union leaders.
‘I’m very, very worried because these union leaders are putting the workers at a disadvantage by refusing to represent them and fight for them and they are traitors who need to be removed.
‘I think, firstly, we should start by replacing all the union leaders and use the unions’ power to overthrow the government, which has twisted the unions into something like a business, which is just plain wrong.’
Eric Lief, a retired bus worker and TGWU member, said: ‘The Gate Gourmet workers have been very hard done by.
‘The trade unions should come to every worker’s aid and support them, but they never got any support from their union, and that’s why we’re supporting them and why every right minded person in the world would support them, if given the choice.
‘For the working class, the issue is changing the leadership and making sure the rank and file actually get a say in what’s going on, because it’s no good just replacing one bad bunch of leaders with another bad bunch.
‘You need workers’ councils to keep them in line. There’s too many politicians about, they all want us to support the Labour Party, but what for?
‘The Labour Party’s been going more and more right wing for 50 years and now it’s nigh on Tory. In fact, it is Tory. That is what Blair did to it.’
Manpreet Singh heard about the concert and bought a ticket and said: ‘I think it’s very bad because these people, they paid their taxes and yet they were put out of their jobs.
‘I think the whole community should support them until they get reinstatement.’
Dajinder Paul, a bank worker and Unite member, said: ‘I think they shouldn’t have been sacked in the first place.
‘They deserve better. They were working for the company for a long time.
‘I think there should be a decent leadership for the unions.
‘I want to see the unions taking up a struggle to defend jobs and stand up to the government. I don’t think they’re doing enough.
‘All I can say is that this situation shouldn’t have happened in the first place and it should have been resolved by now.’
There were bargains galore at all the stalls at the fund-raising bazaar, earlier in the day.
People were delighted with the variety of stalls, from groceries to fashion, to gifts and jumble.
Fair-goers tucked in to the delicious refreshments on hand and were entertained by clown Simon Twistit, who did wonders with balloons!
Local resident Mr Dogra told News Line: ‘I’ve come in sympathy with the sacked workers.’
UCU member, Jane, added: ‘The way the Gate Gourmet workers were treated is appalling.
‘I wish them well in their struggle for justice.’
Local GP Dr Banu said: ‘I’ve supported the Gate Gourmet workers ever since the trouble began.’
Iqbal Dhillon, a baggage handler at Heathrow airport, said: ‘I came to support the Gate Gourmet workers and for a day out with the kids as well.
‘We’re all workers. We’re all in the same team.
‘It’s unfair the way they lost their jobs like that. It’s not acceptable in this day and age.’
Greenford CWU Area Processing Rep, Geoff Loftus, said: ‘I’ve come to support the Gate Gourmet workers.
‘I don’t like anybody being mistreated by people in power.
‘I don’t like ordinary working-class people being abused.
‘Now the government and the bankers are taking liberties.
‘We need to get some sort of balance brought in.
‘What happened to these Gate Gourmet workers could easily happen in Royal Mail.’
• See photo galley