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Sacked Workers Recommence Hunger Strike at Unite offices

16 May 2008

The three sacked airport shop stewards who called off a week long hunger and thirst strike on 11 April, after they received assurances from their union, Unite, that commitments made to them last September would be met, have resumed protest action at Transport House. 

In a repeat of the action that last month led to the union calling the police to remove the protesters, Gordon McNeill this morning occupied the awning at the front of the building. Madan Gupta and Chris Bowyer have said they will take his place if the union has him arrested. 

"We have learned that nothing the Unite leadership say can be trusted. Every member of the union would do well to note the way we have been lied to and fobbed off" Gordon McNeill

The previous hunger strike ended with a promise from the union that they would pay the outstanding legal bill for the long court action taken by the sacked workers against their former employer, ICTS. Unite also said that they would make an offer of compensation to the shop stewards for the hardship which the actions of the union leadership had put them through. All this was to have been done by 30 April.

The 30 April deadline passed without any movement by the Unite leadership on any of these issues. Instead, on 8 May, the shop stewards received a letter from the union solicitor which went back on all the previous promises that had been made.

On four occasions over the last eight months the Unite leadership gave firm guarantees that they will pay the legal bills and offer compensation. Their latest letter revokes all these promises. All it offers is to continue discussions which have already dragged on for years. For the first time it introduces strings and conditions on any offer. In a recent meeting with the shop stewards, Unite Irish Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, made clear that, as a precondition for any settlement, he wanted a letter from the shop stewards exonerating himself and current General Secretary, Tony Woodley, for their role in the dispute.

Faced with this double dealing and intransigence the shop stewards can only conclude that the Unite leadership have never had any intention of resolving this dispute and have been stringing them along with false promises. They have therefore decided to begin an escalating campaign of public protest action to force the union leadership to stand by their earlier promises.


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