OVER 400 people attended a one year anniversary rally for the Sky Chefs workers in west London last Saturday. Lufthansa Sky Chefs at Heathrow sacked the 270 workers last year for taking part in a legal one day strike. They have been fighting for reinstatement ever since.
Delegations of trade unionists from around the country travelled to west London to show their support for the workers' fight. Shop stewards from Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port in the TGWU union (which the Sky Chefs workers also belong to) brought a £1,000 donation with them. Shop stewards from the Rover plant at Cowley explained how they now have a monthly standing order to the strike fund. A firefighter from East Anglia urged the TGWU to 'call for a national day of strike action to get this thing moving. It's the only thing the employers understand.'
A postal worker from Manchester brought a £60 donation and said, 'Solidarity strengthens our movement, and your fight also shows that immigrant workers are an asset to the working class movement in Britain.' Two TGWU shop stewards from Camford Pressings in south Wales also travelled to the conference. One told Socialist Worker, 'They've stuck together so long. We just wanted to show our solidarity. We collected £50 for them. The TGWU is not doing enough, but our biggest disappointment is this government. They are dragging their feet over Fairness at Work.'
Bill Morris, TGWU general secretary, spoke to the conference and pledged his support for the strikers. But many of the Sky Chefs workers were not impressed. 'We have heard the same words from Bill Morris many times,' said Sarfraz Bhatti, one of the sacked workers. We are not very excited. We want results.'
Bill Morris was only applauded during his speech when he attacked the Labour government. It was Ken Livingstone, however, who won the most enthusiastic applause. He told the rally, 'If I'm elected London mayor one of my first civic duties will be to get down there on that picket line.'
TGWU officials are continuing to pursue their international 'Boycott Lufthansa' campaign. But many of the Sky Chefs workers can see this strategy is getting nowhere. 'We have had good speeches today, but afterwards we are the ones who have to go back to the picket line,' said Sarfraz. 'There are 30,000 TGWU members across Heathrow. Why isn't there one day when we have a rally and they call people out and we block the Bath Road? People would soon know about that.'
Messages of support and donations: 14 Myrtle Avenue, Bedfont, Middlesex. Cheques payable to the Lufthansa Sky Chefs Strike Fund.