British Airways (BA) yesterday sacked Mark Fisher, one of the three Transport and General Workers Union shop stewards disciplined for organising an unofficial strike at Heathrow Airport last August 11th and 12th, in support of the Gate Gourmet workers locked out on August 10th.
Another shop steward was found guilty of gross misconduct, given a final written warning, suspended without pay for one month and banned from staff air travel privileges.
A third shop steward remains suspended with pay while disciplinary procedures continue against him.
All three TGWU stewards worked at BA’s ground support unit at Heathrow, made up of baggage handlers, loaders and bus drivers.
TGWU general secretary Tony Woodley, commented on the disciplinary action taken: ‘The T&G is surprised and disappointed at these decisions.
‘We believe that there is no basis for serious disciplinary sanctions – let alone sackings – against our shop stewards.
‘We will fully exhaust the appeals process in line with British Airways procedure.
‘We remain fully committed to supporting our shop stewards at Heathrow and will review all our options after the conclusion of the third disciplinary hearing now pending, and appeals procedure.’
BA said in a statement yesterday: ‘British Airways has today dismissed one of the three employees disciplined for orchestrating un-balloted and illegal industrial action at Heathrow airport during the summer.
‘The dismissed employee has been found guilty of gross misconduct for playing a leading role in the walk out.
‘A second employee, also found guilty of gross misconduct, has been issued with a final written warning, suspended without pay for one month and banned from staff air travel privileges.
‘The employees have the right to appeal the decisions as part of the airline’s disciplinary process.
‘Disciplinary proceedings continue for the third employee, who remains suspended from duty with pay.’
It added: ‘Disciplinary proceedings began in September following the airline’s “Focus on Fact” investigation into the unlawful industrial action on August 11 and August 12 by 1,000 of the airline’s ground support staff at Heathrow.
‘The action cancelled 900 flights, disrupted the travel plans of 100,000 customers and cost the airline up to £45 million.’
Robert Webb QC, British Airways’ General Counsel, claimed: ‘These decisions are a measured and appropriate response given the evidence in front of the managers hearing these cases.
‘Our customers must always be able to book their flights with confidence that they will not be subject to unlawful industrial stoppages.’
Meanwhile, following the breakdown of talks at Gatwick Airport on Wednesday evening, today’s and Monday’s Terminal 5 construction workers’ pay strikes are going ahead.