HEATHROW Airport police dismantled the Gate Gourmet locked-out workers’ picket tent on the hill at the Beacon Roundabout yesterday, threatening the workers’ TGWU Branch Secretary Jarnail Singh and the other pickets with arrest if they did not move.
Duty Inspector Harrison told the workers, who have been picketing on the hill since the 10th of August last year, ‘You can lawfully picket outside your place of work, you just can’t demonstrate here anymore.’
When told by Jarnail Singh that a High Court judge had ruled that the locked-out workers could demonstrate on the hill, Inspector Harrison replied: ‘If the judge wants to argue about it, he can just do it at a later date. BAA, who own this property, have revoked the agreement under which you have been demonstrating here.’
BAA Airport duty manager, Dave Ellis added: ‘BAA is saying that while Gate Gourmet was in dispute with the union we allowed the demonstration, but once the trade union and Gate Gourmet and British Airways had come to an agreement you are now breaching the by-laws.’
After the picket was removed Jarnail Singh said: ‘I told the officer that we are still outside, my members are not receiving any benefits but we are going to our employment tribunals and we have a right to demonstrate. I am phoning my solicitor to establish that the High Court ruling still applies.’
The locked out workers will be resuming their picket today. Earlier, a campaign team went to Oxford to visit striking AUT and NATFHE university lecturers to support them and to invite them to the Gate Gourmet march through Hounslow on Saturday 25th March.
The Gate Gourmet workers received great support on the picket lines that they visited. Outside Oxford Brookes University, NATFHE member Bob Hughes said: ‘I will do my best to come to your march and bring colleagues.’
Dana Wentworth, a NATFHE rep, also said she would come. She added: ‘At the beginning of the dispute I heard the Gate Gourmet spokesman on the radio and he showed that the managers don’t care at all about the workers.’
NATFHE member Greg Benfield said: ‘The Gate Gourmet workers must be supported by the whole trade union movement. I will come to London for your march.’