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
"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
"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."