AS TALKS BREAK DOWN – Call out the airport say Gate Gourmet pickets

A section of the strikers from Gate Gourmet listening to a report from Tony Woodley on Monday afternoon in Southall
A section of the strikers from Gate Gourmet listening to a report from Tony Woodley on Monday afternoon in Southall

‘Talks have, indeed, broken down as a consequence of Gate Gourmet wanting to selectively re-employ those who had been sacked, even though there is enough work for everyone,’ Transport and General Workers Union General Secretary Tony Woodley stated yesterday early evening.

He added: ‘The T&G remains in talks with British Airways but it is our belief that BA cannot do a Pontius Pilate on this issue.

‘It is “cost down” that has led to the sacking of our people,’ he added. ‘BA must now play a part in the resolution.’

‘This is also an issue for the country and the government. It is only our existing labour laws that allow bandit employers to behave like this.’

However, Gate Gourmet workers are demanding immediate reinstatement in their jobs or the calling out of British Airways workers again.

On the picket line, TGWU member Gurel told News Line: ‘If we are not all reinstated under our original terms and conditions by Wednesday, that’s one week on, then we must call out our colleagues at BA again.’

TGWU member Sukdev added: ‘The union must show its strength again. If the company won’t settle straight away then our shop stewards committee should picket the whole airport out.

‘All airport workers know that if this company gets away with it they’ll be next.

‘We don’t know if we are going to get any money from the union. We can’t live on fresh air. We want this settled now.’

Prem Singh said: ‘We wanted to work but the company were looking for a fight. It wants low-rate workers from Europe, but we are living in London and the cost of living is high.

‘We can’t afford to take a pay cut. The company treats workers like slaves. They can pay high management costs but won’t pay decent wages. All airport workers are with us and will have to come out to support us.’

Amajit Dhillon said: ‘The management must understand this is England, not America. They cannot be dictators here. We don’t believe Gate Gourmet is bankrupt. How can you pay for extra managers if you are bankrupt.’

Ken Kainth said: ‘If they were to destroy us they would move on to destroy all unions in the airport.

‘Next on the agenda is BA baggage handlers, postal workers and workers for other airlines.’

TGWU member Paul said: ‘We want our jobs back on the same terms and conditions. The company say we are trouble-makers but they have caused the problem by sacking us.

‘I came to work last Wednesday at 12.30. The police and security guards with cameras were outside the factory and management saying you can either come in or you’ll be sacked.’

Local Labour MPs Alan Keen from Feltham and Heston and Ann Keen from Brentford and Isleworth visited the picket line yesterday.

Alan Keen told News Line: ‘British Airways who placed the contract with Gate Gourmet have to accept some responsibility. They can’t expect to be able to demand a reduction in prices from the contractor without accepting the consequences.

‘The Gate Gourmet workers should follow the example of the Hillingdon Hospital strikers. They are in the right and should keep fighting till they win.’

Ann Keen told pickets: ‘Gate Gourmet must not be allowed to use bullying tactics. We support you in your action. We are 100 per cent with you, your union and your families.’

The whole airport must now be brought out to teach this ‘bandit employer’ a lesson and win the dispute.

If Gate Gourmet seeks to go into administration then the TGWU must demand that the Labour government nationalises the plant to defend and safeguard every job.

• Second news story


The Home Office has begun rounding up the some 7,000 Iraqi ‘failed asylum seekers’ in Britain for a mass deportation to the Kurdish-run north of Iraq.

Over the past week, Iraqis have been rounded up in several raids throughout the country, including operations in London, Birmingham, Plymouth and Cardiff.

Refugee groups yesterday condemned the move as ‘dangerous’ adding that more than 40 Iraqis have already been picked up and sent to detention centres to await their repatriation.

The National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns said yesterday they had heard from worried Iraqis that there would be ‘a number of removals to Irbil in the Kurdish Autonomous Zone of Iraq’ yesterday, 16th August.

NCADC had warned on Monday: ‘It has been known for some time that the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is intent on establishing ‘Charter Flights’ direct to Irbil.

‘Nearly 7,000 Iraqis could face imminent removal, this being the number that are in receipt of “Hard Case” support, it is not known how many of these have signed up for voluntary return.’

The Home Office admitted the operation had been planned in February.