Gate Gourmet workers split Labour party


by Sunny
27th September, 2005 at 3:46 am    

Who would have believed the Gate Gourmet workers may inflict the first serious policy defeat of Mr Blair’s leadership by the party’s National Executive Comittee since 1997.

The issue at hand is support for secondary (or support) strikes, which Tony Blair is vehemently against. Remember, the BA workers strike was illegal since they were not meant to support their co-workers at Gate Gourmet. But the unions want them back. Damn right!

Yesterday, delegates at the Labour party conference narrowly voted in favour of the resolution.

Julie Hilling, a delegate from Worsley, said the Gate Gourmet workers had been treated no better than “common criminals”, but urged delegates not to back a return to secondary action.

But Tony Woodley, the TGWU general secretary, denied his union’s move marked a return to the 1970s. “It’s about protecting workers’ dignity and stopping bosses victimising ordinary men and women.”

Delegates gave Gate Gourmet workers in the audience a standing ovation as Mr Woodley said the case exposed “severe weaknesses” in labour laws, which allowed the “legal exploitation and bullying” of staff. “It is unacceptable and immoral,” he said. “We aren’t calling for wildcat action. We aren’t calling for flying pickets.”

But workers should be given the right to “solidarity action”, Mr Woodley said. “What is this movement about if it isn’t solidarity with those less able to defend themselves?

I agree fully. The press may paint some extreme examples but not all workers constantly want to strike. Without the BA workers strike, no one would have cared about the GG workers.

Update: A deal resolving the issue is expected tomorrow.


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  1. Chris — on 27th September, 2005 at 2:13 pm  

    Am I the only person who feels he doesn’t know the full story on GG? I have to say I am not minded to take TGWU version at face value…

    NB “first serious policy defeat” = means nothing with respect to actual government policy…

  2. Sunny — on 27th September, 2005 at 2:34 pm  

    Hi Chris,

    Here is one quick intro for you.

    And below is a more recent story we did.
    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/30

  3. Chris — on 27th September, 2005 at 3:08 pm  

    Thanks – though I am still a bit confused.
    The GG workers came out because the firm hired an additional number of (casual) workers “without telling the union” – is that it? Were the existing 670 jobs at risk at all?

  4. Sunny — on 27th September, 2005 at 3:15 pm  

    Gate Gourmet had been negotiating with the union for a while to cut jobs. The company, despite having a monopoly over BA catering, kept making a loss due to management incompetence.

    The move to bring in casual workers was a deliberate attempt at provoking a strike so they could be fired, and as the Mirror expose shows, had been planned for a while. They suddenly brought in new workers, non-unionised ones, and told a few people not to bother coming back. That led to a general strike of around 700 workers.

    Then the company instantly fired them (using a megaphone) and sent letters the same day to most of the Asian staff (even those who were on holiday or off ill on the day of the strike) saying that they were being laid-off for participating in the illegal strike.

    That led to support action from the BA staff.

  5. Chris — on 27th September, 2005 at 4:13 pm  

    What aspect of the management of the firm was incompetent? Obviously you assume not employing too many people….

  6. Sunny — on 29th September, 2005 at 3:14 am  

    Well, the fact that they had a monpoly position, yet still failed to make money, despite not having had big changes happened, demonstrates mgmt incompetency.

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