‘OUR trade union leaders did nothing for us,’ sacked Gate Gourmet worker Parmjit Bains told a 200-strong fourth anniversary rally for the sacked workers in Southall yesterday.
Speaking about the beginning of their struggle in August 2005, she said: ‘We had a situation where we were all sacked, all shifts, even those who were on holiday.
‘The employers, because of their crisis, wanted to make the workers suffer.
‘We expected union leaders to stand up and fight for their members.
‘Tony Woodley, the leader of the TGWU, now Unite, did not fight for us.
‘We got a standing ovation at the TUC.
‘But weeks later, our leaders signed a Compromise Agreement for us to give up all our rights.
‘We want leaders who fight for the workers. That’s why Tony Woodley has to resign.
‘A lot of people agree with us and that’s what makes us strong. We will not give up.’
Stephen Pound MP saluted the sacked workers ‘for your courage, strength and determination and for the example you have shown to other workers, not just here, but worldwide.’
He also said: ‘I find it difficult to be a member of the T&G at the moment. I want my subs to support workers in struggle.’
Arthur Lynn, ex-Vauxhall Luton convenor, brought greetings from Luton car workers and told the rally: ‘The union leaders are saying the recession is over.
‘They are saying it’s the German workers’ fault that we’re with Magna.
‘But it was the German workers who forced their union leaders to fight for jobs. They called for solidarity across Europe.’
He concluded: ‘Workers in Luton will have to occupy their factory.
‘We are proud to be here among the Gate Gourmet workers.’
Billy Colvill, Peckham CWU union rep, paid tribute to the struggle of the Gate Gourmet workers and said the postal workers faced similar problems with the Unite leadership as the Gate Gourmet workers have done.
‘Managers, who are in Unite, are crossing our picket lines,’ he said.
News Line Editor Paddy O’Regan brought greetings to the rally, saying: ‘We are full of admiration for the courage and determination these workers have shown.
‘They would not let Texas Pacific trample on them and they would not let Woodley trample on them.’
He warned: ‘We’re going into a very serious situation.
‘We have a crisis with 1.2 trillion handed over to the banks, and workers are being expected to pay for it.
‘Leaders like Woodley, Simpson and Barber have to be put out of the movement,’ he told the rally.
‘This government, or whatever government comes after the election, we should bring it down and go forwards to socialism,’ he added to applause.
He said: ‘These Gate Gourmet sacked workers have shown the way.
‘We need a new leadership that won’t let the working class be taken by surprise, and put an end to the capitalist madhouse and go forward to socialism.’
Other speakers at the rally included North-East London Council of Action secretary, Bill Rogers.