LOCKED out Gate Gourmet workers from Heathrow received a warm welcome at Dusseldorf Airport yesterday morning when they were met by Gate Gourmet strikers and supporters from Dusseldorf.
They joined the Dusseldorf picket line with a large number of the strikers welcoming the delegation from Heathrow.
On the picket line the Gate Gourmet locked out workers answered questions about their struggle in the UK.
The historic meeting ended with a great joint determination to beat Gate Gourmet in both London and Dusseldorf, and everywhere it seeks to sack workers and cut their wages.
‘We fight on until victory’ was the slogan on everybody’s lips.
Meanwhile in London, dozens of locked out Gate Gourmet workers from Heathrow and their supporters lobbied the TUC General Council meeting yesterday morning – to demand the support of delegates for their fight for reinstatement.
Leafleting General Council members, the workers expressed anger with the leadership of their union, the TGWU, for stopping their hardship payments last month.
They called on General Council members to join their mass picket at Heathrow this Sunday.
‘I’ll see what the situation is and see what we can do,’ responded Allan Garley, a General Council member from the GMB trade union.
‘I’ve got your leaflets, I’ll see what can be done.’
Barry Camfield, a leading official of the TGWU, was confronted by the workers.
He told them it was a matter for the TGWU General Secretary Tony Woodley.
‘Tony will be along shortly,’ he said. ‘He’s dealing with it.’
But there was no sign of Woodley before the General Council meeting started.
The locked out workers shouted slogans including: ‘Compromise Agreement – no way!’, ‘T&G – shame, shame!’ and ‘T&G – pay hardship money!’
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber arrived and was questioned at length by the locked out workers.
The workers continued their chants of ‘Tony Woodley – shame, shame!’ and ‘T&G – pay hardship money!’
They won the full support of PCS civil service union president, Janice Godrich, who talked to them at length.
‘I’ll try to do anything I can,’ she said. ‘We gave £3,000.’
‘The T&G should have called out the whole of Heathrow,’ Godrich said, referring to the two-day unofficial walkout by BA workers when the dispute started last August.
‘Once that moment was over it was always going to be more difficult. It was a massive show of strength,’ she added.
Godrich said she didn’t know the workers’ hardship payments had been stopped.
‘I will certainly raise it inside,’ she said.
The workers said there were hundreds of them who had not signed the ‘Compromise Agreement’ and yet they weren’t getting any hardship money at all.
‘I’ll try and do all I can and see what I can raise inside there and get back to you,’ Godrich said.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, said: ‘I will speak to the general secretary of the TGWU – I sit next to Mr Woodley on the General Council.’
Alan Ritchie, from building union UCATT, said: ‘I totally support the Gate Gourmet workers.’
Kuldip Kaur told News Line: ‘We have come here to tell the TUC that the TGWU leaders have stopped our hardship money and we need the support of the TUC. They should be listening to us.’
Kulwinder Grewal said: ‘We did not sign the “Compromise Agreement’’. It is a rubbish agreement.
‘We are angry that our union leaders signed it. They didn’t ask us, they just signed it themselves.’
Mrs R Sharma said: ‘I am angry with the TUC leaders.
‘They promised us support but they haven’t done anything.
‘The T&G and TUC leaders have done everything wrong.’
Jasbir Gupta said: ‘We spoke to about 20 delegates and asked them if they thought it was right for our union to have stopped paying us hardship money.
‘They said “no’’, the union should not have stopped it and they were going to raise it at the meeting.
‘Some were shocked.’
Jasbir continued: ‘Some of the delegates today said that they would come to our mass picket this Sunday.
‘One lady was shocked. She said ours is a huge, huge struggle and now they are just trying to kill it off.’
Mrs A Dhillon said: ‘We had to show the TUC we are still out struggling with no money.’