BA SUSPENSIONS ‘TEST OF THE UNION’ say Gate Gourmet workers

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THE GATE Gourmet mass picket at Heathrow airport was visited by Transport and General Workers Union General Secretary Tony Woodley and the union’s General Executive Council yesterday morning.

The workers heard speakers tell that the negotiations with Gate Gourmet are resuming today, and that three British Airways shop stewards have been suspended for taking sympathy action with the Gate Gourmet workers after they were locked out on August 10.

TGWU chairman, Jimmy Kelly, brought a cheque for £50,000 from the General Executive Council (GEC) for the Gate Gourmet hardship fund.

Referring to the negotiations, Woodley told the mass picket: ‘There is slow progress, if indeed there is progress. At next week’s Labour Party conference, I will be moving an emergency motion.’

Chief negotiator, TGWU civil aviation officer Brendan Gold, said: ‘There are major obstacles over reinstatement and redundancies. We are trying to identify what mechanism we can use to resolve the dispute.’

He added: ‘Now BA shop stewards Pat Revdon, Mark Fisher and Iqbal Vaid have been suspended. Iqbal wanted to come here today, but I’ve instructed him not to.’

GEC member Tony Cooper, representing 70,000 road transport members, said: ‘The Gate Gourmet workers must be reinstated on their original terms and conditions. Anything less would mean the company has got away with it.

‘I support solidarity action, sympathy action. If BA victimises these stewards, it will be a massive challenge to the whole trade union movement.’

Pickets later spoke to News Line.

Sangha said: ‘This is a test of strength which the union has to win. Now BA workers are being threatened and there will have to be more action.

‘There should be national action. The future of the union is at stake and the union must win.’

Speaking about the talks, Anil said: ‘The union leaders and the management are pretending reinstatement and re-engagement are the same thing. But it’s not true.

‘Reinstatement means our original terms and conditions. Re-engagement means the company’s terms and conditions.

‘Also, if they sign a deal leaving possibly 30 people outside, shop stewards and so-called “troublemakers’’, then we won’t accept.

‘Our position remains: all out, all in on the original terms and conditions. If they sack the three BA workers, then it will be war.’