WOODLEY REJECTED – by angry BASSA members

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TGWU general secretary TONY WOODLEY surrounded by sacked Gate Gourmet workers angry at the sell-out ‘Compromise Agreement’ made between the TGWU leaders and Gate Gourmet bosses
TGWU general secretary TONY WOODLEY surrounded by sacked Gate Gourmet workers angry at the sell-out ‘Compromise Agreement’ made between the TGWU leaders and Gate Gourmet bosses

yesterday afternoon the British Airways Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA) branch of the TGWU met in a hotel near Heathrow airport to discuss the Woodley-Walsh deal which led to their three-day strikes being called off.

BASSA members who spoke to News Line before the meeting said they had been sold out and they did not accept the deal.

Senior cabin crew member Gerry said: ‘We’ve been shafted by our own leadership, I don’t want Woodley representing me anymore.

‘Of all the actions over the years, this is the worst possible outcome I’ve ever seen.

‘It bodes very ill for the BASSA branch in its move to Terminal 5.’

His colleague Julie added angrily: ‘The majority of people who have done 20 years will have to pay the equivalent of a small mortgage, quite a few hundred pounds a month, in order to retire at 55 as planned.

‘This is all because the company took a 13-year pension payment holiday and the union leaders seem to have let them get away with it.’

Colin said: ‘It’s not over yet. This is just the start.

‘I was shocked when they called the strike off, but nothing’s settled.’

Gerry added: ‘I don’t think there will be a vote here today.

‘There will have to be a ballot of the whole branch.’

TGWU general secretary Woodley told the 300-strong meeting: ‘There was tremendous pressure on your union and even more on me, to settle.

‘No-one can say this union and this leader ignored your wishes.

‘When I met Willie Walsh, the very first question that was asked of me, as general secretary, was “are you going to call this dispute off?”

‘The answer I gave, and even though there are many ladies present here, I quote “there is not a f***ing chance”.’

He added: ‘People have said I sold you down the river, that’s bullshit.’

He continued to claim: ‘The purpose of the 96 per cent vote was to reach a negotiated settlement.’

He added: ‘When I met Willie Walsh he had already said he would not negotiate under duress.

‘It’s really important to understand the breakthrough.’

At this point, members shouted from the floor ‘What breakthrough?!’, ‘We’ve been sold out!’ ‘What about our pensions?!’

Woodley responded that maybe ‘we should have organised things better’.

In response to more uproar, he said: ‘If people want to talk about a conspiracy or not, there was not a cat’s chance in hell of negotiations being reopened on pensions.

‘The big negotiations on pensions had already been concluded.’

There were cries of ‘Why?! why?!’ from the floor.

Woodley continued: ‘On the Friday, (before the strikes were due to take place) I rang Walsh and told him we weren’t prepared to meet him at company HQ, it would have to be neutral ground.

‘When we met he said “Is the dispute still on?” I said “Willie, you’ve had my answer to that mate”.’

In response to cries of “Get on with it!”, Woodley said that ‘I know it’s long-winded, it’s got to be long-winded to say it the way it was.’

‘We are dealing with a bully boy who came from Aer Lingus.

‘He came into the room and said “I don’t want to be here”. He humiliated himself,’ Woodley claimed.

The TGWU leader concluded: ‘In negotiations, you put in a claim, have you ever seen a settlement that wins every point?

‘I’ve been in the game 36 years and I’ve yet to see it.’

There were shouts from the floor ‘You have let us down on pensions!’ and ‘We want to hear from the committee members who stood down’.

Outside the meeting, BASSA member Sophie commented: ‘He hasn’t addressed the issues.

‘He hasn’t got a clue. He’s talking out of his rear.’