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Correspondence:  Sacked Belfast Airport Workers Committee win fight, take on union bureaucracy

22 August 2007

Sacked Belfast Airport Workers Committee

  • Security firm ICTS ordered to pay £750,000 damages.
  • Tribunal finds that the 23 workers were unfairly dismissed
  • Tribunal also finds that four shop stewards were victimised and sacked because of their socialist political beliefs.
  • Shop stewards claim this as a “victory for all trade unionists”.
  • Shop stewards to launch a hunger strike at the headquarters of the T&GWU/Unite in London on Thursday demanding an inquiry into why the union repudiated their strike and failed to support their legal case.
Five years after they were sacked by their employer, security firm ICTS, for taking strike action over pay, the 23 sacked airport workers have won their Industrial Tribunal case.

The Tribunal unanimously found that ICTS unfairly dismissed the 23 workers.

The Tribunal also found that the four shop stewards, Gordon McNeill, Madan Gupta, Chris Bowyer (T&GWU) and Malcolm Spencer (GMWU) were “unlawfully discriminated against” on the grounds of their socialist political beliefs.

In total the compensation awards amount to £750,000.

Gordon McNeill today said the Tribunal decision “totally vindicated the stand we have taken over the past five years.

“This is a victory not just for us but for all trade unionists. Our case sets two important legal precedents which strengthen the hand of all trade unionists and put a serious dent in the Thatcherite anti union laws.

“The Tribunal decisions in our case now establish that shop stewards can legally resume suspended strikes with no legal requirement to give any notice to employers and that any shop steward who is victimised or sacked can claim political discrimination, rather than just unfair dismissal.

“ICTS have not only been found guilty of discrimination, the senior directors of this company were found to have lied in court. The question now to be asked is how can a company whose directors lie in court be allowed to remain in charge of people’s security at Belfast or any other airport?

“Having won a victory over ICTS we are now turning our attention to our union. The T&GWU was complicit in having us sacked as, behind our backs, they repudiated our strike. They have failed to give us legal backing, telling us we had no legal case.

“They are not even prepared to acknowledge or answer letters we have written asking for discussions to resolve our differences. 

“Because of this the three T&GWU shop stewards, Madan Gupta, Chris Bowyer and myself are going to London on Thursday to begin a hunger strike in the T&GWU/Unite offices.

“We will stay on hunger strike until the union leadership meet our demands for a full inquiry into their (mis)handling of our dispute and until they agree to meet the legal bill and other costs we have incurred because they refused to back us in this struggle”

Copies of the Tribunal judgement plus background information on the dispute and information on the intimidation/death threats that were made against the shop stewards in 2003 to get them to drop their case against the union will be given at the press conference.

Issued by Gordon McNeill, Madan Gupta and Chris Bowyer on behalf of the 23 sacked airport security workers.


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