YESTERDAY the Gate Gourmet picket lines were buzzing with the latest revelations concerning the way that the bosses had provoked a strike in order to lock them out, sack them and then bring in scabs to do their work at cut rates.
One locked-out worker told News Line: ‘All of the crocodile tears about the sufferings of the travellers, when they’re the people that provoked everything in order to cut our wages and destroy the lives that we’ve built up for ourselves.’
A Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) spokesman told News Line: ‘We suspected that last Wednesday’s actions by Gate Gourmet were premeditated and provocative and it now appears we have the proof that all along they’ve intended to break the union and sack our members.
‘We’re in talks with the company today.’
The union’s spokesman said no decisions would be taken about what the union was going to do next while the talks with Gate Gourmet were still continuing.
But she admitted the union was concerned that there was an attempt to break its organisation at Heathrow.
A Trades Union Congress (TUC) spokesman said: ‘The TUC fully supports the T&G’s campaign to ensure their members are not undercut by agency recruited migrant workers.’
All Trades Union Alliance National Secretary Dave Wiltshire told News Line: ‘The bosses have been caught in the act, deliberately provoking an action with a view to sacking people and destroying their lives.
‘They had foreign scabs already lined up to do people’s jobs.
‘The only thing that’s held them off was the sympathy stoppage by the BA baggage handlers.
‘It’s a disgrace that the TGWU leaders condemned the sympathy strikers and sent them back to work.’
He added: ‘Millions of workers have been angered by the revelations about the Gate Gourmet provocation.
‘Workers know that if the bosses get away with this here, then the combination of provocations and strike-breaking will be used up and down the country.
‘I’d advise the shop stewards committee at Gate Gourmet not to wait on Tony Woodley (TGWU leader). Too many workers have done that in vain.
‘Strike while the iron’s hot.
‘The shop stewards committee at Gate Gourmet should immediately call on all workers at the airport to stop work and for the other airports to stop in sympathy with their struggle.
‘This will pave the way to win their jobs back at the current terms and conditions of service.
‘Their victory will be every worker’s victory.
‘Now is the time to take action and to call for action at Heathrow and at all the airports.’
The 800 locked out TGWU members at Gate Gourmet are furious that the company has been allowed to drag out talks for four days without any result.
Mr Matharu, a TGWU member, told News Line yesterday on the picket line at Heathrow: ‘The BA workers will come out again.
‘They know that if we were beaten the same thing would happen to them.
‘This company has locked us out after organising a provocation last Wednesday.
‘When they threw us out, one pregnant female was dragged along the floor by two male security officers.
‘She was walking between them, she slipped and fell and they didn’t even bother to pick her up. They just dragged her along.
‘If nothing is resolved by today, we want the British Airways workers back out.’
J. Dhillon said: ‘We have great unity and I know we will win.
‘When we went in last Wednesday, there were over 100 agency workers inside.
‘We held a meeting in the canteen about it and management came in and said we were sacked. Then they mandhandled us out.
‘A private security firm used force on some of the ladies.
‘We didn’t go on strike, we are locked out.
‘Now we want the union to declare that this is an official dispute and to call the rest of the airport out.’
Balbir said: ‘Everybody knows that every company on the airport will do the same thing if Gate Gourmet gets away with this.
‘The airport must be called back out again, straightaway, and our dispute must be made official.’
• SECOND NEWS STORY
BRISTOL STRIKE ‘MAY SPREAD’
Postal workers at Bristol East Delivery Office held an official one-day strike yesterday in an overtime dispute.
The strike caused major disruption to deliveries and collections in the Easton, Fishponds and Lawrence Hill areas of the city.
‘This dispute could spread,’ Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) Bristol Delivery area official Mike Newport told News Line yesterday.
He said: ‘The strike went really well.
‘We had pickets out from midnight last night until midday today and managers were only able to deliver a token amount of mail.
‘There’s no resolution. We’re meeting with the members again on Wednesday.
‘Notice has already been given for a 24-hour strike next Monday 22nd August and our members are looking for an additional strike date on Friday 26th August.’
East Delivery Office members voted for the strike in a ballot two weeks ago after their contractual overtime was cut.
Mike Newport added: ‘Management have introduced practices at Bristol East Delivery Office which are different from those for all other Royal Mail employees.
‘Basically what they are saying is we have some prescheduled overtime.
‘What the business wants to do is, if the individual who is nominated to cover the overtime is not available, to offer it to just one other person before cancelling it.
‘That is instead of, as elsewhere, offering work to everyone in the office.
‘Our members at EDO want to know why they are being treated differently.’