Gate Gourmet workers say: WE WANT VICTORY! – while TGWU leaders discuss compulsory redundancies and loss of unfair dismissal rights!

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LOCKED out Gate Gourmet workers spoke to News Line on the picket line yesterday.

Mrs L Saran said: ‘We are becoming impatient. Last Monday we had a breakthrough at the TUC, now we want a result.’

She continued: ‘The company took me to the court along with five others, accusing us of abusing the workers going inside.

‘First they put an injunction against us saying we can’t come to the picket line.

‘Then one week later we went to the High Court in London, but they couldn’t prove anything, because it was not true, and the court overturned the injunction.

‘But 10 of my colleagues are still under an injunction, which is not right.

‘It is disgusting, it is not us abusing anyone, it is the company abusing us very badly.’

Mr J Singh said: ‘The company sent me a P45 and a letter of dismissal saying “no appeal”.

‘Then one month later they sent me a letter saying give us a ring and we will send you a date when you can come and appeal.

‘Some people who have gone to appeal had their ID taken off them and were told they will be written to.

‘Why should I appeal when it’s them that have done everything wrong.

‘We shouldn’t appeal individually. We must all be taken back in together.

‘We are very strong, firm and united.’

Surinder added: ‘They are talking today but it shouldn’t take long. There is only one solution. It’s got to be reinstatement for all on our original terms and conditions, otherwise we will call the whole airport out.’

News Line contacted the TGWU about yesterday’s meeting, and queried with it claims being made on the Gate Gourmet website.

The website claimed that on September 9 the TGWU and the TUC reached an agreement with it on ‘compulsory redundancy’.

The website also stated that: ‘Due to legal reasons the company is unable to selectively re-engage dismissed workers because the illegal action that took place was instigated and supported by local union officials. The legal constraint on the company is well known to the union and has been at the heart of the lengthy negotiations since the wildcat strike.

‘In present circumstances the signing of compromise agreements by all the dismissed workers is the only way that would enable Gate Gourmet to quickly consider any requests by dismissed employees to be re-engaged by Gate Gourmet.’

The Transport and General Workers Union confirmed yesterday that its discussions of a settlement with Gate Gourmet would involve all 670 locked out workers being required to sign ‘compromise agreements’ which would then be considered by the company for ‘redundancy or re-engagement’.

The criteria Gate Gourmet would then use to consider ‘requests for re-engagement’ by those who signed the ‘compromise agreements’, would be based, according to the company, on ‘skills and knowledge, attendance and disciplinary records’.

A TGWU press officer told News Line yesterday: ‘I don’t think there will be a resolution today.

‘We are endeavouring to get people who want to be reinstated back to work, but there is a likelihood that the company wants compulsory redundancies.

‘By signing the compromise agreement you would give up some of your rights on unfair dismissal.

‘We are negotiating to try and get a resolution so the people who have been sacked can choose to go back to work or take compensation.

‘350 want to go back to work, but if they want to go back they would have to sign the compromise agreement, as would those that want redundancy.

‘The compromise agreement is separate from the compulsory redundancy selection criteria.’

Asked if locked out Gate Gourmet workers would be consulted before any agreement is signed by the union, the TGWU officer replied: ‘We’ve got the senior stewards involved and have kept them fully informed throughout the negotiating process’.

He added: ‘The TGWU National Executive is holding its quarterly meeting all next week and will be discussing the current state of the dispute.’

• Second news story

SHARON’S UN SPEECH SLAMMED BY PALESTINIAN LEADERS

Palestinian leaders yesterday labelled Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s speech to the United Nations, calling for compromise and peace in the Middle East, as just a publicity stunt.

Palestinian National Authority Planning Minister Ghassan Khatib said Sharon’s speech on Thursday to the UN General Assembly was ‘deceptive’ and lacking credibility.

The PNA minister insisted: ‘This was a public relations speech to exploit the withdrawal from Gaza and to realise diplomatic gains, no more.

‘It has no credibility as he goes on with his policy to build the barrier and the settlements.’

Sharon had claimed that ‘now it is the Palestinians’ turn to prove their desire for peace’, and demanded the Palestinian leadership ‘put an end to terror’ and ‘eliminate the anarchic regime of armed gangs’.

Khatib said the Palestinians had been hoping that Sharon would ‘announce Israeli readiness to go back to bilateral negotiations on the basis of the implementation of the roadmap’, which calls for an end to all Israeli settlement activity and paves the way for the creation of a Palestinian state.

But, Khatib added: ‘Israel is asking us to assume our responsibilities in the Gaza Strip when the fact is that Israel has maintained its domination on its borders and its movements, making Israel responsible as an occupation force.’

Commenting on Sharon’s recognition that the Palestinians have a right to a state of their own, chief PNA negotiator Saeb Erekat said: ‘It’s not enough to make declarations. You have to end the occupation and settlements.’

He stressed that a Palestinian state will have Jerusalem as its capital.