Brendan Gold, the T&G’s national officer for airports, told Socialist Worker, “Gate Gourmet is determined not to reinstate what it calls the ‘troublemakers’.
“We will not allow the company to pick and choose, so this remains a very serious fight.
“We need to broaden out the dispute. There has been solidarity action at Copenhagen airport. US unions representing Gate Gourmet workers have pledged full support for the campaign at Heathrow.
“The union is working to ensure that all the solidarity that can be expressed will be.
“The courage of these workers is truly inspirational. Their sacking raises the issues of outsourcing and increasing pressure on the workforce, the laws designed to prevent workers acting in solidarity and the whole framework of employment rights.
“The T&G is putting these issues at the centre of public debate particularly in the run-up to the TUC and Labour Party conferences.”
Trade unionists who have raised support for the Gate Gourmet workers say the scandal of Labour’s pro-boss laws and the example of the solidarity action by BA workers resonate with workmates.
BA is desperate to prevent a repeat of the action that grounded its flights and made union-busting at Gate Gourmet international news, rather than a hidden scandal like so many others.
It is trying to create an atmosphere of fear inside Heathrow, but at the same time managers are treading carefully and avoiding actions such as the sacking of a steward that might provide a trigger for renewed action.
T&G officials are concerned that with the company losing an estimated £40 million through the unofficial action three weeks ago it will be out to target the union. That’s especially so as Willie Walsh, who sacked 2,000 workers at Irish airline Aer Lingus, is about to take over at BA and the company aims to slash jobs and conditions when it relocates to Heathrow’s Terminal Five in three years time. We understand the pressures on BA staff,” said one group of Gate Gourmet workers. “But the union has shown it has the strength to take them on. We should be working towards that. If Gate Gourmet management win, it will be bad for everyone in the airport and in other places.”
And one BA worker says, “We need to cut through the climate of fear. Leaflets, discussions, collections and small acts of solidarity are not the same as the high level of action ground crew took at the start of the dispute. But they are vital across the airport to both supporting the Gate Gourmet workers and creating a confident climate where other action can take place.”
A meeting of senior stewards from across British airports was to take place this week. There were also calls for a stewards meeting across Heathrow and a mass meeting of Gate Gourmet workers to discuss a collective response to the company’s redundancy offer.
“Rallies are good to build up spirit,” said one Gate Gourmet driver. “We also need a forum for proper discussion.”
Over the last three weeks the confidence of the Gate Gourmet workers has grown.
Three workers accompanied a union official to the London transport regional council meeting of the RMT union on Thursday of last week.
In the best collection at the meeting anyone could recall delegates raised £445 and organised collections across London Underground.
Invites for Gate Gourmet speakers to address meetings are now coming in from across Britain as this dispute alongside the indefinite strike at Rolls Royce in Bristol focus the outrage at working life in Blair’s Britain.
For details of how you can build solidarity with these workers go to www.sackedbygategourmet.org.uk