Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/335/5645
Belfast Airport Workers Win Trade Union Inquiry
THREE SHOP stewards from Aldergrove Airport, Belfast, who were sacked for daring to strike in support of a pay rise, have won an important part of their battle for justice.
Gordon McNeill and Madan Gupta (now Socialist Party members) were, along with Chris Bowyer, sacked for organising a strike by low-paid workers in May 2002 against their employer ICTS.
Gordon explained how their union official Joe McCusker
"called us out on official strike. Then, when we were on strike, he told ICTS that he had repudiated our action - the company then used this as their excuse to sack us... A week earlier he had given ICTS an assurance that there would be no strike.
"The TGWU code of practice clearly says that, where a shop steward is dismissed, an immediate inquiry will be set up to investigate... Up to now, this right has been denied us."
The workers ask why this happened. "Were we set up? What links, if any, existed between our official and our employer, ICTS? We have been asking these questions for nearly two years and have not been given answers. That is why we need an inquiry."
So angry were these workers that Gordon and Madan even threatened to begin a hunger strike in Belfast's TGWU building.
On hearing this news, Teresa Mackay, Socialist Party member and TGWU activist in the agricultural workers' section, rang general secretary Tony Woodley's office to argue the workers' case.
Gordon and Madan agreed to call off their hunger strike after the TGWU agreed to their call for an inquiry to investigate all that happened during their dispute, including the events leading up to their sacking and for McCusker to sign an affidavit clarifying that he told them that their strike was both legal and official.
Gordon McNeill said they were very pleased with the outcome.
"The unfortunate thing is that it has taken almost two years and the desperate step of a hunger strike to get this result."
Gordon and Madan are now confident the truth will come out.
"This decision now leaves us free to do what we wanted to do all along; concentrate our fight against our employer, ICTS, to make sure other low-paying companies cannot get away with sacking workers for going on strike."
In The Socialist 21 February 2004:
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party feature