‘WE DEFEND OUR RIGHTS’ – Gate Gormet locked-out workers tell AGM

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‘IF we sign the compromise deal we cut off our hands – the company sacked us in five minutes and the union signed the compromise deal in half-an-hour – we can’t sign.’

Gate Gourmet locked-out worker Parmjit Baines was addressing the packed Annual General Meeting of the Hounslow Unison local government branch yesterday afternoon.

The meeting was attend by more than 70 Unison members.

Lakhinder Saran was the first of the locked-out Gate Gourmet workers to speak, she said: ‘I was locked in the canteen for several hours with hundreds of fellow workers on early shift on the 10th of August last year, then we were taken out and locked-out.

‘The union leaders said that they would support us but then they signed the compromise deal accepting compulsory redundancies.

‘We saw Tony Woodley (TGWU General Secretary) two weeks ago. He said the union had already paid us £1.1m pounds and we would get no more hardship money unless we signed the agreement.

‘But we won’t sign the agreement because it takes away all our rights.’

Parmjit Bains said: ‘I was on late shift on the 10th of August.

‘The company had disconnected our ID cards when we got to work showing that it was all pre-planned.

‘The union said “you all came out together and you will all go back together” then with three months over they signed the compromise deal.

‘We said how can you accept 144 pre-planned redundancies? They said these were based on sickness, skill and disciplinary records.

‘I’ve worked 11 years with the company and they said I have no skills, if I had no skills why didn’t they sack me years ago?

‘They want slave labour inside, nobody to speak against them, but we won’t give up our rights.

‘If we sign the compromise deal we can’t take our case to the employment tribunal.

‘From the 6th of January the union has paid us no hardship pay they think they can starve us into signing – no way!

‘We have told other branches about our situation and they are supporting us.

‘We are demanding the TGWU restores our hardship pay and until then we are appealing to all union branches to support us. Please come to our mass picket at the Beacon Roundabout, Beacon Road, near Terminal Four on Sunday 26th February 11am-1pm and come to our march through Hounslow on Saturday 25th of March.’

At the end of the Hounslow branch AGM members made a generous collection for the Gate Gourmet workers dispute fund. After the meeting other locked-out workers, who attended with Lakhinder and Parmjit, spoke to News Line.

Jasbir Dosinjh said: ‘We were very glad we came here today and they gave us time to speak and good support.’

Parmjeet Sidhu said: ‘They were very friendly and will come to our march.’

Sukhwinder Mundy said: ‘It was very good here today, we have been to other meetings and are looking forward to being invited to many more.’