NO TO A ROTTEN COMPROMISE! sayGate Gourmet workers

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Locked-out Gate Gourmet workers picketing yesterday morning on the hill near the factory
Locked-out Gate Gourmet workers picketing yesterday morning on the hill near the factory

TGWU members on the picket line yesterday condemned the ‘Compromise Agreement, reached between Gate Gourmet and the TGWU leaders.

Mr Sangha said: ‘The company and the union leaders are really playing with us now. This compromise agreement is rotten, it takes away all our rights.’

He added: ‘We have no money from the JobSeekers Allowance and we are only getting £50 a week hardship payment from the union, but we are standing firm for reinstatement on our original terms and conditions and we want payment of all the wages we have lost since the 10th of August.

‘I am applying for an employment tribunal hearing on my unfair dismissal. The union leaders must be changed.’

Fellow picket Parmjit, said: ‘I’m telling all my friends, don’t sign the compromise agreement and apply for an employment tribunal before it’s too late.’

Picket Chanan, said: ‘Why should we trust either the company or the union leaders now after they’ve been messing us about for over two months. They’re just trying to keep things hanging on until the deadline for applying for an employment tribunal passes on the 9th of November.

‘The union leaders are helping the company, not their own members. We are all together fighting for reinstatement on our original terms and conditions and full payment for the money we have lost since we were locked out.’

Mr A Singh, added: ‘Now the union leaders are trying to call off the picket, no way. We are going to picket until we win our reinstatement and the wages we have lost.’

The Gate Gourmet management has written a letter to every one of the 144 out of 701 locked out workers that it intends to make compulsorily redundant.

It invokes the agreement that Gate Gourmet has made with the TGWU leaders that involves all 701 workers giving up all of their employment rights and all claims that they may have against the company.

There is no precedent for this dirty ‘compromise’ deal that was signed by Brendan Gold of the TGWU and Brendan Barber of the TUC, and pushed through by TGWU leader Tony Woodley.

In the letter Andy Cook, Gate Gourmet’s director of Human Resources, tells the sacked worker that under the agreement for the resolution of the dispute agreed with the TGWU the ‘company is now proposing to offer you a compensation payment, equivalent to voluntary severance in full and final settlement of any claims relating to your employment with the company or your dismissal on or about 10/11 August 2005. This payment will only be made to you if you agree to enter into a compromise agreement.’

Cook then reveals more of the handy relationship that Gate Gourmet has with the TGWU leaders.

He writes: ‘If you wish to accept the payment, you should wait to hear from your legal adviser before taking further action. You will shortly receive a letter from solicitors appointed by the union (your adviser) to provide you with independent advice who will also send you a separate letter which sets out claims you may have against the company. Once you have taken legal advice, you will need to sign this letter and attach it to the signed agreement before returning both documents to your adviser for completion and signature. Your adviser will then return these to the company for signature.’

What a disgrace! The company once called by Woodley ‘Gangster Capitalists’ refers the worker to the union solicitor as his adviser, saying he is independent. It just so happens that his employer has pledged to Gate Gourmet that it will move hell and high water to get every worker to sign away all of their employment rights. How independent can you get!

The seven page ‘Compromise Agreement’ with the TGWU spells out: ‘The agreement will prevent you from taking any legal action that you may be entitled to bring in the future which is connected to any extent directly or indirectly with the dismissal of the dismissed employees. . .’

Further it declares: ‘Since you will receive a compensation payment. . . in return for the ending of your employment, you expressly acknowledge that there is to be a complete and permanent ending of your relationship with the Company and you will not apply for employment with the company, or any associated Company at any stage and that there are no circumstances under which the company or any Associate Company could be required to consider any application for employment by you.’

Further: ‘You agree that the Agreement is conditional upon all of the dismissed employees signing and returning compromise agreements together with signed copies of the Advisers certificates in the form attached to the Company by 16 November 2005 save any variation agreed by the Company to the End Date’.

The TGWU leaders will be pressing all dismissed workers to sell their rights otherwise nobody will get their pittance. A novel form of blackmail!

Further: ‘In the event that any of the above conditions are not complied with in full, the Company shall be entitled at its option to treat this agreement as null and void and without legal effect’.

The TGWU leaders have not just agreed to 144 compulsory sackings they have agreed to a sale of basic rights for a few pounds, and all so that they can snuggle up to the ‘Gangster Capitalists’ and save them large sums from Tribunal awards.