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Peter Hadden

Sacked airport workers resume pickets

(July 2003)

From Socialist Voice [Dublin], No. 60, July 2003.
Transcribed and marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

The sacked airport security workers have resumed their pickets at Belfast International Airport. This follows a commitment from newly elected T&GWU General Secretary, Tony Woodley, that the full weight of the union will now be put behind them to pressurise the airport to reinstate and compensate them.

The workers were sacked over twelve months ago when they went on strike against the poverty wages paid by international security company, ICTS. Initially they got little or no support from their union and were forced to conduct a long campaign, including the occupation of Transport House in Belfast, to try to force T&GWU officials to give them proper backing.

The three sacked shop stewards have had a series of meetings with Tony Woodley and have been assured of his full support.

The union has promised to contact T&GWU members working in the airport asking them to give concrete support to the sacked workers. Other unions, such as the FBU and the Communication Workers Union, are to be approached and the shop stewards are appealing to them not to cross the picket line.

The T&GWU have also promised to make the dispute international by contacting workers employed by ICTS in other countries asking for support. Sacked shop steward Gordon McNeill told Socialist Voice:

“We are very pleased that at last our union has promised to stand behind us. Now we have to make sure that the promises are kept. Over the summer, we want to put maximum pressure on the airport. If we can disrupt the freight that comes in and out of Aldergrove, it will put pressure on our employers to concede. ”

A victory for the airport workers would be a signal that employers will not be allowed to get away with things that a weak and tame trade union leadership have allowed them to get away with in the past. Other workers should show their support, raising finance, supporting the picket or in any other way so that this long running dispute is won.

“We will have leaflets explaining our case to give to passengers. Our dispute is not with ordinary people using the airport but if there are delays and disruption, they need to know that it is the airport that is responsible. We are not prepared to lie down in the face of an employer that pays security and other staff a pittance and then sacks people who stand up for their rights.” – Gordon McNeill

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Last updated: 24 April 2016