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Peter Hadden

Sacked airport workers out to prove that …

Ordinary workers can fight back

(May 2007)

From The Socialist, No. 25, May 2007.
Transcribed by Ciaran Crossey.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The airport workers who were sacked in 2002 for daring to strike against poverty wages, and who were left high and dry by their union which repudiated their strike have been presenting their case to an Industrial Tribunal.

The workers have already won a legal case that found that their strike was legal and official. It is ironic that the courts, usually no friend of strikers, found that the action was legal while their union, the T&GWU, had declared that it was illegal and washed their hands of it

The workers are now taking a case for unfair dismissal while the shop stewards are claiming that discriminated against them on grounds of their “trade union opinion and socialist beliefs”. It is quite clear that ICTS used the strike and the union repudiation to get rid of “troublesome” shop stewards.

The case has been postponed for a month and will be resumed on 29 May. If the Tribunal does find in their favour on the discrimination case, this will be a landmark ruling which will strengthen the hand of shop stewards and union activists in resisting victimisation.

Sacked shop steward and Socialist Party member, Gordon McNeil, told The Socialist:

“We have been out all along to show that ordinary union members can fight back, with or without the support of their union officials. We had to handle our own case with our own solicitors because the union solicitors told us we had no case. Our General Secretary, Tony Woodley, also told use to accept an out of court settlement as, in his words, we could not win.

“We are not anti-union. We want to strengthen the unions by taking them out of the hands of corrupt officials and putting the members in charge. Workers need unions that will fight, not sell their members out We went to the courts only as a last resort. The best way workers can fight for their rights is through mass action on the streets and on the picket lines. If our union had stood by us five years ago, none of the action we have had to take since then would have been necessary.”

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