A DELEGATION of locked out Gate Gourmet workers joined the Terminal 5 building workers’ picket line at Heathrow Airport yesterday afternoon.
Parmjit Bains, one of the workers who has been locked out since last August 10th from the catering company that supplies BA, said: ‘We are glad to support the Terminal 5 workers.’
‘We give them all our support and we will be down early on Monday to join them. Our struggles are the same.’
Speaking about the Gate Gourmet conference next Sunday 29th, Parmjit added: ‘Lots of people have brought tickets to come to our conference and we are especially pleased that Terminal 5 workers are coming.
‘We have great support from many trade union branches, the issue is leadership in the unions and policies to fight for the members.
‘The TGWU leaders stabbed us in the back when they signed the Compromise Agreement selling our jobs, pay and conditions.
‘We are not letting them get away with it. We have a mass picket this Sunday from 11am ’til 1pm at the Beacon Roundabout and all are welcome.
‘At our conference on the 29th we will be discussing what to do to win our struggle and other struggles as well, like at Terminal 5, the Post Office and the NHS.’
Jasbir added: ‘I am fighting to win my job back and I’m glad to support the Terminal 5 workers, we want united action.’
Mohinder Grewal was on the campaign team for the conference yesterday morning after which she joined the Terminal 5 picket.
She said: ‘Bus workers supported us at Hounslow Bus Garage this morning and bought tickets for our conference, we want all trade union members to come.’
Raksha added: ‘It’s important for all workers to be united in their fight.
‘British Airways workers who came out in sympathy strike with us have bought tickets for our conference and now Terminal 5 workers, we are very pleased.’
The locked out workers are angry about an unsigned letter that they are receiving from the TGWU.
They believe it contains a threat to remove their representation at the forthcoming tribunal by the union’s solicitor.
It states: ‘Any individual. . . who has an outstanding tribunal application will have that application dealt with by the union’s solicitors on the basis of the merit of the individual case.
‘As with all T&G members, any application is progressed so long as the union’s solicitors believe there is a likelihood of success.’
This is being said after the union’s solicitor OH Parsons lodged all 760 cases at the Tribunal.
On the picket line, Terminal 5 GMB member John Anderson said: ‘I’m glad to buy a ticket to the Gate Gourmet workers conference. Unity of all the struggles across the airport will strengthen us all.’
John added: ‘Today’s been a fantastic day, there is a determination to win. We are fighting for what we believe in – equal rights across the site. We are fighting for parity.
‘There have been strong rumours about a ballot next week but until I see the true facts in writing I’ll be here determined to win this fight.
‘If it takes indefinite action to win, then that’s what it will be, I’m absolutely determined.’
Earlier in the morning, GMB trade union member Michael Bevins told News Line on the Terminal 5 mass picket at Heathrow’s Longford roundabout: ‘All we want is the same bonus as they give everyone else.’
The Laing O’Rourke general operative added: ‘They’ve already given two or three companies the extra £1 on the bonus, I can’t see why they can’t pay us the £1.
‘Laing O’Rourke have offered 67 pence now, but the original offer was only 22 pence, take it or leave it.
‘We don’t want special treatment, just the same as everyone else. It’s become a principle now.
‘The firm are trying to use bully-boy tactics but it’s obvious if they put you in the corner you’re going to come out fighting.
‘People are not going to be pushed about.’
GMB regional organiser Tom Kelly added: ‘All the trade unions on site are fully in support of the strike action.
‘The bonus payments the men were promised at the beginning of the job have never materialised.
‘The fall-back bonus has not risen for three years, despite the project being on time and within budget.
‘Other workers on the site have seen their standing bonus increased by £1 an hour.
‘Laing O’Rourke workers don’t believe they should be treated any different.
‘You can see from the picket lines, there is a bigger turnout than the last dispute.
‘This shows the determination of the workers to achieve their aim.
‘There are further days of action planned and a complete overtime ban.
‘We expect more disruption next Tuesday and Wednesday week.’
TGWU regional organiser Alan Brkljac said: ‘We believe this dispute is in the forefront of the British trade union movement’s struggle to maintain wages and terms and conditions.
‘We also believe the environment is right for our members to send a very clear message to the employers at UK airports that building workers are a very important part of the infrastructure.
‘Any deal we believe can be improved upon. We will not sit on terms and conditions without improvements when it is clear that our members have played a part in creating this world-class airport project.
‘We salute all our members for their endeavours and the joint unions for their solidarity.
‘We are extremely angry and disappointed by the action of the employers this week.
‘They pulled in large groups of our members and misrepresented the truth by telling them that this dispute was over.
‘They told members that the strike today would be illegal.
‘As regards the other media – the headlines saying it was settled were written to appease the stock market and not our members.’