GATE Gourmet locked-out workers got great support when they visited Heathrow Airport yesterday in their campaign for their public meeting on Sunday November 5th.
Many workers bought tickets and took leaflets saying they would encourage their friends to come.
British Airways loader John Bosher told News Line that the BA workforce was preparing for a struggle to defend jobs, conditions and pensions.
He said: ‘We don’t have a choice I’ve only been here six years but the ones who’ve been here thirty years are really worried. There must be no sell-out over pensions. We stopped for two days for the Gate Gourmet workers and we hope they win.
‘I was working on the Sun when Murdoch brought in a new workforce and sacked us all.
‘Then the union leaders sold us out just like Woodley sold out the Gate Gourmet workers. They are talking about the move to Terminal 5 being like a new Wapping. we need a leadership in the union that will defend all jobs and conditions. No sell-out!’
Fellow BA loader Mr B Singh bought his ticket for the meeting and added: ‘We know what BA is planning but we are very strong, if we stop for twenty minutes it will take them three or four days to clear the backlog.’
BA baggage handler and TGWU member Nitin Halia also bought a ticket and said: ‘The outcome of the Gate Gourmet struggle is very important for us as well, it sets an example for what is coming up for us.’
Baggage handler Mohinder Bahra bought his ticket and said: ‘I feel really sorry for them, they’ve been struggling for over a year now, the union must support them.’
Baggage handler Raminder said: ‘It’s unfair the way the Gate Gourmet workers were treated, it was well planned in advance that’s what I read in the papers and that’s what I think.’
London Underground worker and RMT member at Earls Court station Warish Singh bought two tickets and said: ‘I have supported the Gate Gourmet workers throughout their struggle and I spoke at their first anniversary meeting in August.
‘They have been treated in the worst possible way by the company and a few of the union leaders, especially Woodley. Woodley should be sacked. I’m definitely coming on the 5th and I’ll bring some friends.’
• Second news story
TGWU condemns attacks on forein drivers
THE TGWU yesterday condemned xenophobic attacks on eastern European lorry drivers.
The union stated that ‘Problems related to long driver hours and poor vehicle standards need to be addressed without the scaremongering of xenophobia.’
Ron Webb, T&G national secretary for transport, said yesterday that recent media articles and programmes highlighting issues around eastern European drivers, masked a more widespread problem.
‘The T&G has argued in every employer and government forum that we need stronger regulation of driver hours and higher vehicle standards so that all road users including all lorry drivers can operate in as safe an environment as possible,’ said Webb.
‘It is extremely unhelpful to put a narrow, headline grabbing xenophobic focus on foreign drivers when the truth is the industry needs taking to task.’
The T&G said lorry drivers routinely worked nearly thirty per cent more hours than the UK average in spite of the EU Working Time Directive, which stipulates an average 48-hour week, being in force for the industry.
Webb said official figures showed the average hours for a lorry driver of 49.3 a week exceeded the UK average of 38.3 by 11 hours a week.
For the top 10 per cent of lorry drivers the average hours of 63.3 were over 40 per cent higher than the average of the top 10 per cent of the UK at 44.8.
‘Drivers on our roads should be driving safe hours whatever their nationality,’ he said. ‘The reality is it is not just the continental drivers who are breaching safe limits, it is all drivers. That requires attention.’