DELEGATES attending the TUC Congress in Brighton yesterday spoke out strongly in support of the Gate Gourmet sacked workers, and the postal workers.
This was after they were met in the morning by a 70-strong All Trades Unions Alliance lobby, made up of sacked Gate Gourmet workers, postal workers and other sections of workers and youth.
There were constant chants of: ‘Smash the venture capitalists! Support the Gate Gourmet workers!’ ‘Reinstate their hardship pay! Make the dispute official!’ ‘Woodley and Barber are friends of the venture capitalists!’
Lobbyists invited delegates to their lunchtime meeting and sold dozens of tickets for the Gate Gourmet Locked-Out Workers Second Anniversary Benefit Rally on Sunday October 14 in Southall Community Centre.
Many delegates showed their support by giving the locked-out workers £20 donations to help fight the cases they are bringing of racial discrimination against the Texas Pacific venture capitalists, which their TGWU union leaders have abandoned.
Sacked Gate Gourmet worker, Raj Sahdev, said: ‘Lots of delegates bought tickets for our anniversary rally today.
‘We invite all trade unionists and their families to come to our second anniversary rally on October 14 in Southall Community Centre.
‘It’s to raise funds for our racial discrimination cases against Gate Gourmet.’
Charlie Thompson, Amicus Nuclear Power, Somerset, said: ‘The trade unions are going far too much to the right.
‘We have to give support to the Gate Gourmet workers and defeat the venture capitalists.’
Julian Chapman, NASUWT Gloucestershire, bought his ticket for the Gate Gourmet locked-out workers’ Second Anniversary Rally on the first day of the TUC on Monday.
He told News Line: ‘The original sacking of these fellow trade unionists lacked any form of justice whatsoever.
‘It’s hitting the lowest paid and the most vulnerable, largely Asian workers sacked by megaphone.
‘The whole trade union movement has to stand up for them.’
Betty Calderbank, Bromley NUT, said: ‘We totally support the issues around the Gate Gourmet workers and hope the TUC will actively assist.’
Alan Grey, Glasgow Prospect, said: ‘I use BA all the time and I got caught up in it.
‘It’s an absolute disgrace. The initial secondary action by the British Airways workers and other staff really raised the profile of the Gate Gourmet dispute.
‘It just shows the benefit of secondary action and the power of being able to support our fellow members.’
Bob McGuire, CWU North-East England divisional rep spoke about the postal workers’ dispute.
He said: ‘The members will decide on Monday September 17.
‘Management are taking executive action on that date. They are going to introduce later starts into the delivery offices.
‘They’re going to try and change the whole way of working.
‘I don’t think the members will put up with it.
‘It involves many issues including childcare and working later at weekends.
‘If affects work-life balance.
‘The leadership are going to have to play catch-up with the members, because the members won’t put up with it.
‘We should have, and I’m sure we will have, a national day of action and national demonstration outside the Labour Party conference here in two weeks.
‘It is going to kick-off big style, the way the business is treating this union.
‘There’s no way the members will put up with it, not in a month of Sundays.’
Brian Blair, TGWU Transport Motherwell, said: ‘The TUC must support the postal workers.
‘They are derecognising the post office and trying to turn it into a business.
‘The national post office has to stay public.’
Brian bought his ticket for the Gate Gourmet Rally and added: ‘I’m coming down on October 14.’
Raza Matloob, CWU Langley, who was lobbying said: ‘The five to six weeks of secret talks were a complete and utter waste of time, pointless, meaningless, solutionless.
‘The union leadership have shafted us in the back good and proper.
‘This leadership has not got the guts or nerves to fight for us.
‘We have to have a pay rise at least at the level of inflation if we are to survive, and we can’t accept any of these changes that management is trying to impose on us.
‘They want slave labour. Management is telling us: if you don’t want to do it, get out the door and we’ll get in agency staff at half the cost.
‘We want a change of leadership.
‘The TUC should call an immediate general strike within 24 hours and the TUC has the power to do that.’
Raza added: ‘The Gate Gourmet workers have been used and abused in a big way.
‘I think their dispute is 100 per cent legal. It should be made official with immediate effect and it should be announced by this conference, here in Brighton this week.’
Margaret Idem who was also lobbying said: ‘I’m in the RCN from North Middlesex Hospital, basically I’m here in support of the Gate Gourmet workers who were sacked illegally and also to inform delegates what’s going on in the National Health Service.
‘I’m speaking as an insider. A lot of people don’t know the effect that privatisation of the NHS is actually having.
‘The government is closing down accessibility, leading to people having to pay if they’re going to get the service.
‘Also continuity of care is being destroyed.
‘People need to know their nurses, doctors and care providers, and the care providers need to know their patients.
‘We have to save the NHS, stop them closing down the wards.
‘At North Mid, they’ve closed beds, closed wards, cut jobs. Now there are not enough beds and very ill patients are being sent home to die,’ she alleged.
‘The pressure on staff, emotional, psychological and physical is immense.
‘The TUC have to wake up.’
Gate Gourmet locked-out worker and TGWU member Harbans Saroay said: ‘We are very angry at what the TGWU and the TUC leaders did to us.
‘Woodley promised we’d all get our jobs back, but he stopped our hardship money and ran away from us and wouldn’t speak to us at our TGWU conference.
‘And Brendan Barber signed the Compromise Agreement with Gate Gourmet, agreeing to 150 compulsory redundancies, including me.’
‘They must be sacked for what they did to us.’
CWU postal union deputy general secretary Dave Ward bought two tickets for the Gate Gourmet locked-out workers’ rally.
The sacked workers then held a packed and successful meeting.