Peter Hadden Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Peter Hadden

Sacked airport workers say they were fired
“for trade union opinion and socialist beliefs”

(March 2007)

From The Socialist [Dublin], March 2007.
Copied with thanks from Irish SP Website.
Marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

Come May it will be five years since 24 security workers at Belfast International Airport were sacked for striking against the poverty wages paid by their employer, ICTS.

The company were encouraged to sack these workers, including all the shop stewards, when union officials of the T&GWU repudiated the strike, despite the fact that it was an official dispute that had been legally balloted for.

Over the last five years the workers, especially the three shop stewards, Gordon McNeill, Madan Gupta and Chris Boyer, have fought a long and gruelling campaign for justice.

This has involved pickets at the airport, protests and demonstrations as well as legal action. The workers have been demanding justice, not only from ICTS, but also from the union. They have had to resort to a number of hunger strikes and occupations of Transport House to try to get answers from the union leadership as to why T&GWU officials repudiated the action.

In July 2003 the workers were advised by T&GWU General Secretary, Tony Woodley, to accept a paltry out of court settlement and drop their legal case against ICTS.

The workers rejected this and decided to continue the fight on their own, without union backing. In a ground breaking legal decision, they have won their case that the strike was lawful and official, despite an unsuccessful appeal of this decision by ICTS to the Court of Appeal.

In April their substantive case for unfair dismissal on the grounds that they were discriminated against “on grounds of political opinion because of their trade union opinion and socialist beliefs” is being heard.

Gordon McNeill told The Socialist:

“Our case is going to make new law that will strengthen the hand of shop stewards both in dealing with their employers and within their unions. Five years on we have a message for Bill Morris (T&GWU General Secretary at the time of the sackings) and Tony Woodley. It is this:

“We chose to fight.
You chose to run.
You deserted us.
But we still won.
It’s now your trial.
It has begun!

“We are not out to attack trade unions but to change them and build unions that are democratically run by the members and look after the interests of members.”

Peter Hadden Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 9 August 2016