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Peter Hadden

Hunger strike wins concessions

(May 2005)

From The Socialist, May 2005.
Transcribed and marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

At the end of April sacked airport shop stewards, Gordon McNeill, Madan Gupta and Chris Bowyer resorted to the desperate measure of a hunger strike to press their demand that their union, the T&GWU launch an inquiry into its handling of their dispute.

The shop stewards, with 20 other airport security workers, were sacked for striking against the poverty wages paid by their employer, ICTS. The pretext used to sack them was that the strike was “unofficial” and therefore illegal. However this was thrown out by an Industrial Tribunal last November which found against the employer on all counts.

At the Tribunal, further damaging information about the role of the T&GWU official responsible for the airport, Joe McCusker, came out. The airport workers have fought for three years to bring out the truth about the role of union officials at the time. In March they wrote a letter to the union asking that, in light of what was revealed during the Tribunal hearing, a disciplinary inquiry be set up to investigate the role that the officials played.

Because they received no response to this or to follow up letters, the three shop stewards decided to resort to a hunger strike. They occupied the foyer of Transport House and began the hunger strike on 29 April. They stayed on hunger strike until the following afternoon when, at a meeting with Regional Secretary, Mick O’Reilly, he agreed to recommend that the Executive grant an enquiry and that the three shop stewards should have the right to travel to London to present their case at the Executive meeting.

Gordon McNeill told The Socialist:

“We are satisfied with this outcome. We have forced the union to listen whereas previously they were just trying to ignore us. One way or another we will ensure that the truth about the way we are treated will be brought out.

“We want to return the union to the members. Our next step will be to campaign as Socialist Party members in the union for the election of all officials and for an end to the present situation of jobs for life, big salaries, cars, expenses and golden handouts.”

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