The Gate Gourmet dispute rightly dominated the TUC conference and led to a unanimous call to end the legal ban on solidarity action.
But trade secretary Alan Johnson cited the workers’ scandalous treatment only to say that the Labour government will keep all the legal restrictions on unions.
Tony Blair released the text of a normally private speech given to the TUC general council in which he arrogantly lectured unions about the need to modernise. Predictably, he had nothing to say about the vicious sackings at Gate Gourmet.
“What we want is justice,” said one of the hundreds of sacked workers who lobbied the TUC last week.
“The company is now saying it will pay some of us redundancy, but it refuses to take back what it says are 200 ‘troublemakers’.
“The union must not accept that. If the words here mean anything there should be 100 percent support for us and action to win reinstatement. If the laws are wrong, why should we obey them?”
The Gate Gourmet workers are in urgent need of solidarity to maintain their dispute.
And while the unions may succeed in embarrassing Blair over the anti-union laws at Labour’s conference next week, it is going to take serious action to force Gate Gourmet, and behind them British Airways, to back down.
That point was underlined by sacked Amicus union convenor Jerry Hicks, who spoke at a 65-strong Respect fringe meeting at the TUC.
“There’s a reawakened spirit of solidarity,” said Jerry. “But we are going to have to mount a major campaign across the unions to make sure it breaks through.”
To contribute to the Gate Gourmet Hardship Fund send cheques payable to TGWU with Gate Gourmet written on reverse to: Gate Gourmet Hardship Fund, c/o Mr E McDermott, TGWU, 218 Green Lanes, London N4 2HB
For more updates and background information on the dispute go to www.sackedbygategourmet.org.uk