NO MORE WAITING – demand Gate Gourmet workers

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GATE Gourmet pickets said yesterday they were fed up with waiting.

They poured scorn on a Transport and General Workers Union plea to British Airways to sign a new contract with the in-flight meals company which sacked them and locked them out.

One of the locked out Gate Gourmet workers, Mrs M Odedra, told News Line: ‘The T&G told us today that they hope BA sign the deal with Gate Gourmet by Monday, but we don’t think so.

‘They always say, “wait until Monday, wait until Wednesday’’. No more waiting.

‘We’re going to put in our claims for unfair dismissal.

‘Until we have a letter in our hands saying what our future holds, nothing is settled.’

Mrs Daljit Gill said: ‘It was the union who told BA not to sign the contract with Gate Gourmet in the first place.

‘They asked BA to wait until the dispute with us was settled.

‘They can’t be surprised that BA won’t sign the deal now. We’re still out here. How is it settled?

‘Why should anyone accept compulsory redundancy?’

She told News Line that all locked out workers should put in their claims for unfair dismissal.

She said: ‘On 10th August we came to work and were told to park our cars and wait in the car park.

‘We weren’t allowed inside. Then TGWU officer Oliver Richardson came out and told us we were all dismissed.

‘Other people were locked in the canteen for eight hours but we were all unfairly dismissed, all of us.

‘We should all put in a claim together for unfair dismissal.’

Yesterday, the Transport and General Workers Union issued a press release, stating: ‘Leaders at the Transport and General Workers Union today urged British Airways and Gate Gourmet to sign their new catering contract and so end the mounting concern and frustration being felt by the Gate Gourmet workforce.

‘The new contract, which the union had expected to be concluded immediately after the Gate Gourmet workers voted to accept a settlement on return to work or redundancy, is important as it will ratify the union’s deal with the airline caterer and so draw to an end the bitter dispute at Heathrow.

‘ “Our members have acted in good faith by supporting the agreement negotiated between the T&G and Gate Gourmet,” said Brendan Gold, T&G national secretary for civil aviation.

‘ “Now it seems the process of British Airways and the caterer signing their new contract is being delayed or drawn out for some reason.

‘ “All that is creating as far as we are concerned is a mounting degree of frustration amongst our people. It is time for those delays to stop and for the contract to be signed.”

‘The union concluded a deal with Gate Gourmet at the end of September which was supported by the workforce.

‘It provides for the great majority of union members who were sacked on 10th August going back to work or taking voluntary separation.

‘The remainder, who would have faced compulsory redundancy under the company’s plans prior to the dispute, will now have representation and access to an appeals procedure following a fair process.

‘British Airways had made it consistently clear that a new catering contract was available and agreed in principle and could be activated once the labour issues with the T&G had been resolved.

‘ “The labour issues have been resolved,” stressed Mr. Gold. “There should be no reason for the companies to delay any longer.” ’

• Second news story

EIGHT AFGHAN TANKERS DESTROYED

Eight fuel tankers parked outside a US-led coalition base at Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, were yesterday destroyed by a Taleban-planted bomb.

Two drivers were injured in the explosion. The puppet Afghan Army said it was thought to have been caused by a bomb hidden in one of the tankers.

A US military spokeswoman confirmed that some fuel tankers had been hit by a blast and had caught alight.

She said the tankers belonged to the Afghan army and claimed they had been driving past the base when one hit a landmine.

Elsewhere, a leading pro-occupation cleric was killed and 16 people injured by a bomb detonated in a mosque in south-east Afghanistan.

Mullah Maulvi Ahmed Khan was about to lead afternoon prayers when the remote controlled device was detonated, puppet Afghan police said.

Police blamed the Taleban for the blast in Tani district, 25 kilometres south of Khost.

Mullah Khan was a member of the pro-Karzai government provincial clerics’ council, the Ulema.