Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/299/13859

From The Socialist newspaper, 10 May 2003

Airport Workers Demand The Truth

IN MAY 2002 24 security workers at Belfast international airport were sacked for going on strike. The events around the sackings have led some of those involved to suspect collaboration between the management and local transport union (TGWU) officials.

Since the sackings, the leading shop stewards have been evicted from the Belfast offices of the ATGWU (the TGWU section in Ireland) by police called in by the union officials. The sacked workers are demanding that TGWU general secretary Bill Morris conducts an enquiry into the whole affair.

Gordon McNeill, with Madan Gupta and Chris Boyer spoke to Bill Mullins when they lobbied the TGWU leadership in London.

"It started over low pay. Our employers, ICTS, who work in 50 other airports worldwide, were paying us 5 per hour, with no overtime or shift allowances and no sick pay.

They are an Israeli firm and had responsibility for Boston airport, where two of the 9/11 planes took off. As a result, the management were putting more and more pressure on us.

Pay claim

We decided to put in a claim for a wage increase to 6 per hour. But we waited over six and half months for the TGWU to organise a strike ballot after the management made us a derisory offer of a 30 pence per hour increase.

We raised numerous complaints with Bill Morris about Joe McCusker, the local official, who works for Jim Elsby the Dublin-based regional secretary. (Elsby had been imposed by Morris after he had suspended the existing regional official, Mick O'Reilly, on trumped-up charges. See previous articles in the socialist).

We never had acknowledgement from either Morris or Elsby throughout this period and all the staff were fed up with the way we were being treated. There was a spontaneous stoppage by the workers demanding to know where their ballot papers were. They finally arrived two weeks later.

The management, of course, raised hell with the union over our protest stoppage and we were told by another official that they demanded the union get rid of Gordon McNeill and Madan Gupta.

Fourteen days later we got the ballot papers but brother McCusker insisted that we have an indicative ballot first. We got 97% in favour (104 for, three against).

Six days later we had the postal ballot, which returned a 97% vote in favour of strike action. Even McCusker said he had never had such a high ballot for strike action before!

We gave the employers 14-days notice of discontinuous strike action (though we were only legally obliged to give them seven days notice). We intended to go on strike in blocks of four hours to cover the airport's busiest times, starting on 8 May 2002.

At 4am on 8 May we got a phone call from McCusker asking us to suspend the action. He said that the conciliation service of Northern Ireland, the LRA, had agreed to act if the action was suspended. We were assured the employers would make a serious offer at the LRA offices.

When we got to the LRA at 2pm there was a message from the company saying they couldn't make it till the following day. Bill Condit, the senior TGWU official present said that ICTS were abusing the union's good faith.

We gave the company till 14 May, otherwise we would strike. The company said they would meet us the following day with "a serious offer" if we suspended the action again.

When we met them on 10 May they had nothing new to offer but again asked us to continue suspending the action till 17 May. But at the next meeting on 13 May, there was nothing on the table.

We contacted the union's legal director in London, who agreed we would not need to give another seven days notice of strike action. We phoned McCusker and told him this. McCusker then told the company we would strike from 7am the following day, 14 May.

On 15 May, when we came back to work, McCusker contacted both Gordon and Madan to say he was "repudiating" the strike - disowning it and withdrawing official union support.

The management then suspended 24 of the 44 strikers, including the four shop stewards. We tried to contact McCusker but couldn't find him.

Pickets were put on the airport but the majority of security workers had been intimidated by the company's actions. Other unions on the site were told by the TGWU that the issue had nothing to do with them.

The employer has gradually filled our jobs with new labour. McCusker has not been anywhere near the airport or visited the picket lines. We are not allowed into the airport and anyone seen talking to us is pulled in by management.

We have applied for an employment tribunal and we're calling for a union enquiry into McCusker and his handling of our action.

We intend to organise more demos in Belfast and will be calling on all Northern Ireland unions to join us on a mass picket of the airport on 24 May.

We would like to thank all unions for the support they have already given us, in particular the Socialist Party and Peter Hadden for their support and advice. If it wasn't for Peter we would have given up by now."

Please send messages of support to: Belfast Airport Workers, c/o 36 Victoria Square, Belfast BT1 4DQ.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 10 May 2003:

No To Foundation Hospitals

Fight Corus Job Massacre

Airport Workers Demand The Truth

Nursery Nurses Step Up The Fight Against Poverty Pay

Iraq watch

Northern Ireland: Only Working Class Can End Sectarian Impasse

Elections 1 May 2003: Build The Socialist Alternative

Bootle and Wales: New Labour's lies and dirty tricks

Blair's 'Baghdad Trounce'

Needed - new policies, not new voting methods

Spectacular gains for Scottish Socialist Party

Neo-Nazis blast a warning

Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta


 

Home   |   The Socialist 10 May 2003   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Belfast:

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleBoeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangleWeakened Tories forced into Northern Ireland abortion u-turn

Airport:

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleBA poverty pay dispute enters new phase of action

triangleWorkers warned boss of tech failure danger

triangleIndia: struggle against land grab in Pune

Strike:

triangleNorth London Socialist Party: Save our NHS - the lessons of the Barts strike

triangleUni strike: coordinate public sector fightback

triangleBig political strike against Finnish government's attack on unemployed

US:

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleYour newspaper fights with you: help fund it with May Day greetings

Union:

triangleUnison national women's conference

International

International

14/2/18

France

France: rallies in support of oppressed Kurdish people

14/2/18

Unemployed

Big political strike against Finnish government's attack on unemployed

14/2/18

Brazil

Brazil: Lula conviction confirmed

14/2/18

South Africa

Cape Town drought

7/2/18

China

May's silence is a green light for Chinese repression

7/2/18

Tamil Solidarity

Protesters denounce oppressive Sri Lankan regime

7/2/18

Sudan

Sudan: Mohamed Satti released - global solidarity campaign gets results!

31/1/18

Kurds

Stop the war on the Kurds

31/1/18

Austria

Vienna: 50,000 march against racism and austerity

31/1/18

Kurds

Stop the war on the Kurds

24/1/18

Palestine

Punishment of Tamimi family awakens wave of international solidarity

17/1/18

Hong Kong

Stop repression in Hong Kong and China

17/1/18

Tunisia

Tunisia: explosion of protests against government austerity

10/1/18

Iran

Movement challenges Iranian regime

10/1/18

Appeal

Appeal from Iranian independent unions

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999