THE BRAVE sacked Sky Chefs workers at Heathrow Airport need the support and solidarity of trade unionists now more than ever. The 270 workers-kitchen staff, chefs and drivers-are preparing to spend their second Christmas on the picket line.
They were sacked just over a year ago when they stood up to their union-busting employer. They refused to be bullied by Lufthansa Sky Chefs bosses into working harder for less money. They balloted for action and the result was a 75 percent vote to strike. The workers then organised a perfectly legal one day strike. They were sacked as a result, and told they would be allowed back to work only if they signed a no-strike contract.
But the Asian and white workers refused to be hounded back to work. 'We have done nothing wrong. Why should we be made to feel like criminals? Why should we feel humiliated just because we stood up for our rights?' says one of the sacked workers who has been picketing the factory near Heathrow Airport ever since.
The workers are members of the TGWU, the same union as the Pricecheck workers. The TGWU is the second biggest union in the country. It is potentially very powerful. But TGWU general secretary Bill Morris is repeating his sorry performance over the Liverpool dockers' dispute. He says he backs the Sky Chefs workers' fight. But he refuses to call action by the 40,000 TGWU members across Heathrow airport because of the anti-union laws. TGWU officials are instead concentrating on a 'Boycott Lufthansa' campaign that is getting nowhere fast.
Solidarity action from workers across the airport could win the dispute in half an hour. The strikers are receiving support from other workers in Heathrow and across the country. The British Airways GMB/APEX branch at Hatton Cross has just donated £1,000 to the strike fund.
But there is growing bitterness on the workers' pickets lines with TGWU leaders. 'We have been fighting for over a year now,' says another striker. 'We are still standing in the same place, shouting at the same scabs. I don't know what the union is doing for us. Our fight is about everybody's rights, and every worker's ability to take strike action and to have a union. That's why people should get behind us.'