‘RESTORE OUR HARDSHIP PAY!’ – Gate Gourmet locked-out workers urge TGWU executive

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‘WE are lobbying the TGWU national executive today to demand that it immediately restore our hardship pay, which has been stopped by Tony Woodley, the TGWU leader and Brendan Gold.’

Mrs Basra, a TGWU shop steward and one of the 700 Gate Gourmet locked-out workers, added that ‘Stopping our hardship pay is an attempt to starve us into accepting the notorious Compromise Agreement that Woodley made with Gate Gourmet.

‘This sells out our jobs and our rights, and accepts the company’s “survival plan”, for a pittance.’

Mrs Basra was speaking to the News Line yesterday morning at the Beacon Roundabout near Heathrow Airport Terminal Four where the locked out workers have picketed every day for almost six months.

She added: ‘The union must tell us what is the reason for stopping our hardship pay – the dispute is continuing, the union leadership must support us not the Gate Gourmet bosses.

‘We have other questions we have to raise with the executive as well. We are members of the T & G and proud of it, so why did the union leaders sign this disgusting Compromise Agreement which accepts 144 compulsory redundancies and a reduction in terms and conditions for other workers.

‘We need leaders who will fight for us, not the bosses, we have rejected the Compromise Agreement and we want reinstatement on our original terms and conditions. The National Executive must take a stand with us.’

Another locked-out worker, Raksha Sharma added: ‘We need our hardship payments until the dispute is settled.

‘The other main thing we need to sort out is that the union solicitor must represent us in our case at the Employment Tribunal. We had an unsigned letter on TGWU headed notepaper two weeks ago, saying that the union solicitor may not represent us.

‘We are disgusted and very concerned, and the NEC should be so as well. We are demanding that the NEC restores our hardship pay.

‘I came to work as usual on the 10th of August 2005, at 3pm. When I got there the security officer told me I could not go in.

‘That evening I received a letter through my letter box saying I was dismissed with no right to appeal.

‘Then I was selected by the company for compulsory redundancy under the Compromise Agreement which the union leaders signed without balloting us. We reject the Compromise Agreement.

‘I was unfairly dismissed and I’m going to my Employment Tribunal to claim unfair dismissal.

‘I want the union solicitors to represent me as is my right. The union solicitor must be available to represent us all. We have all been unfairly dismissed and we are all long-standing union members.’

Mohinder Grewal said of the hardship pay: ‘We need the money, we are suffering hardship as we have been for the last six months.

‘Are they trying to starve us into giving up? Why are they taking the management side not the workers? It is very hard for us.

‘I say to the NEC, take your stand with us, defend your members and restore our hardship pay.’