‘SACK SIEGEL FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE HERE!’ say defiant Gate Gourmet strikers

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THE Gate Gourmet strikers have poured scorn on company chairman David Siegel’s departure from Britain to America, which was announced on Wednesday.

Picket Mr Bakra said: ‘Siegel has gone to see his billionaire boss who spent $10 million on his own birthday party. Some people are saying he’s getting the sack, he should get the sack for what he’s done here.’

Picket Baldev Sandhu said: ‘If Siegel had things to discuss in America why didn’t he discuss them over the phone? Why did he go to America with a telephone available?

‘Siegel is dragging things out but at the end of the day he will be the loser.

‘They are playing a dirty game. They have made a habit of playing this game. In the past they’ve set up talks but behind the union’s back they were setting up another company called Versa Logistics to do our jobs in the event of a dispute.

‘Then they manufactured the dispute on Wednesday 10th August.

‘Prior to that, he was paying the Versa Logistics people to sit at home.’

Picket Ravi told News Line: ‘We need a leadership that will fight to win, we need strong leaders.

‘We won’t have leaders who will stab us in the back. We do need total victory. We need all our jobs back on the original terms and conditions.

‘We are the union. We want the whole airport to stop until we get our jobs back.’

Another picket, Atwal, said: ‘We are very strong and completely united. The company has made its position clear, it wants to change terms and conditions and keep out those it calls militants.

‘We are all hard working people fighting for our rights.’

Picket Ranjit said: ‘We will win this struggle even if it means the whole airport coming out.’

A striker showed News Line a copy of a sacking letter he had received from A Woodhouse, Gate Gourmet General Manager Heathrow West, the letter, dated 18th August, stated:

‘From Gate Gourmet Ltd Human Resources Department re notice of dismissal:

‘I note that you have been absent from work when you were rostered to be on shift. You have been recorded as absent without leave as we have not heard from you to explain your absence as required by the company’s absence procedures.

‘Attempts have been made to contact you by telephone. Following reports our investigations now confirm that you have been positively identified attending with the pickets and who are supporting those dismissed from the company last week for taking part in illegal industrial action.

‘The witness evidence we have is very clear that you have been taking part in this picket. This is a form of industrial action that is illegal.

‘In the circumstances the company has no alternative but to dismiss you from your employment. You are now dismissed with immediate effect for taking part in illegal industrial action. . .’

The picket told News Line that he understood that approximately sixty of his colleagues, who were absent when the lock-out took place, had received similar letters.

In fact, neither the picket line nor the demonstration near to the factory is illegal.

The company is due to appeal against a judicial decision, that confirmed that this is the case, at the Court of Appeal today.

• Second news story

AL SADR FIGHTERS BATTLE WITH BADR BRIGADE

The Shi’ite movement split yesterday over the future of Iraq as supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr battled with members of the Badr Brigade all over central and southern Iraq.

Moqtada al-Sadr, who has already led two uprisings by his Mahdi Army against the occupation, is opposed to federalism and any attempt to split Iraq up into three warring states.

The Badr Brigade, the military organisation of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) – which is at the heart of the puppet government – favours a Shi’ite state in the south, which would gravitate towards Iran.

Armed clashes continued across Iraq yesterday after deadly clashes in Najaf on Wednesday.

One man was killed and 13 wounded in overnight clashes between al-Sadr supporters and SCIRI members in the southern town of Nasariyah, 375km southeast of Baghdad.

By daybreak yesterday, residents of several southern cities reported burned out political offices.

There were reports of violent clashes at Shi’ite political offices in Basra, Nasariyah, Hilla, Samawa, Diwaniya and Amara.

In Amara, north of Basra, a policeman was killed in dawn clashes with Mahdi Army fighters who had occupied the local premises of the Badr Brigade.

A Sadr spokesman warned of a ‘general call to arms’ if there was no apology.