have been called many things, most of which I have
little or no resemblance to: But being a cynic is
one that Ill put my hand up to, more so since
I had the misfortune to meet the three representatives
of the sacked airport workers last August.
02 the security staff at Belfast International Airport
took official industrial action in their claim for
better working conditions. Their employer ICTS
sacked twenty three of the striking workers after
their full-time union official Joe Mc Cusker
of the ATGWU issued a repudiation notice for
reasons known only to himself.
union under the leadership of Sir Bill Morris and
aided by Jimmy Elsby and Ben Kearney who was acting
regional secretary and officers McCusker and Condit
acted in a way which could only be described as strange.
Not only did McCusker repudiate the strike, when the
workers were sacked he refused to complete LD1
forms which would have given the workers a degree
of protection and ensured a quick hearing in the labour
courts. And instead of putting the full power of the
trade union movement in to action to get the sacked
workers reinstated they tried to put them in a box
and forget about them.
a member of the Belfast district committee ATGWU I
tried to get information on the plight of the sacked
workers but the only response was a wall of silence
from the bureaucrats and careerists in the ATGWU.
I was driving a comrade from the Colombian trade union
solidarity campaign to Altergrove to catch a flight
back to London. At the airport I happened to ask the
police officer on duty if he had heard any thing about
the sacked workers. He put me in touch with a security
person who give me the home telephone number of Gordon
McNeill, one of the sacked workers and a shop steward.
I phoned Gordon and introduced my self and arranged
for him and the sacked shop stewards to come to the
next meeting of the Irish branch of the ATGWU broad
this meeting the three shop stewards told us what
had happened. The meeting was shocked but not surprised
at the way workers had being mistreated by the bureaucrats
and decided to give them our full support and help
them organize a picket at the IBDC which
Bill Morris was attending. The pressure paid off and
the union agreed to pay each of the sacked workers
strike fund of £47.00 per week and to fight
to try and save their jobs. We arranged for a party
of the sacked workers to attend the ATGWU national
broad left meeting being held in Manchester and advised
them how to fight back against the bureaucrats and
careerists in the union who were not happy with the
fact that they had lost the workers their jobs but
now wanted to destroy them financially as well.
put the sacked workers in touch with the SWP and SP
in Belfast who organised street collections for them
and highlighted their plight in their party newspapers.
Broadcaster and journalist Eamon McCann highlighted
their case several times in his column in the Belfast
Telegraph as did the Blanket and all of the Belfast
The airport campaign lingered on - weeks became months
and then for some reason the sacked workers stopped
communicating with the broad left. We thought that
they had settled with the union quietly, until March
03 when McNeill got in touch with me again asking
for advice as the bureaucrats were trying to stop
their strike fund and they felt let down by the General
Secretary Sir Bill Morris. This escalated when the
three shop stewards held a protest in Transport House
Belfast calling for the dismissal of the full-time
officers McCusker, Condit, Elsby and Kearney, and
calling on the union to launch a General Executive
Enquire in to the handling of their dispute. This
was to become one of the darkest days in the history
of the trade union movement. Full-time officer Bill
Condit called the PSNI to remove the three sacked
workers all of whom were suffering from ill health.
Over 18 fully kitted riot cops arrived within minutes
and threatened the sacked workers with arrest if they
did not leave their own building. For the first time
in the history of the trade union movement a union
unleashed the forces of capitalism on its own
Shame Shame Shame.
June 03 Tony Woodley was elected as General Secretary.
The day after his election victory the GEC were meeting
in London and the three shop stewards were outside
Transport House to picket the meeting in order to
highlight their case. It was at this point that Woodley
went outside and asked the three what they were doing.
They told him and he invited them inside and held
a hour long meeting with them. The three shop stewards
told Woodley that they had two demands 1/ a fair fight
with ICTS and 2/ a executive enquiry into their case.
three shop stewards were then invited to Bournemouth
for the annual ATGWU conference, where they were greeted
with open arms and presented with financial donations
from many of the regions there.
July/early August the union went to the airport hoping
to provoke the airport authorities and escalate the
dispute. In Mid-August 03 ICTS asked the union for
formal talks to try and end the long running dispute,
however they refused to negotiate with the three sacked
stewards directly. But the union invited the three
stewards to attend but in a another room so they could
be kept up to date with negotiations as they happened.
a cretin member of one the socialists parties in Ireland
- not the SWP - began to interfere in the dispute.
This well intended idiot sold the three shop stewards
- who in my opinion where still very politically and
industrially naïve - a pup telling them not to
believe the broad left; and that if they sued the
union the company and the airport that they would
get hundreds of thousands of pounds each.
was after this unwarranted interference that the three
stewards refused to send any representative to the
talks and Bowyer and McNeill began to make impossible
demands which made it impossible for the union to
negotiate. I personally talked to McNeill the day
and night before the talks with the employers. I asked
him to be realistic and inquired what he would settle
for. But he wouldnt listen. When I ask what
about the other workers he said fuck them I
am only concerned with myself.' I told him that he
was being unrealistic and very unfair to the other
twenty one sacked workers and those still employed
in the airport and that the negotiations were doomed
to failure because of his and Bowyer's intransigence.
meeting went ahead and ICTS made an offer
to settle the dispute, which the union took back to
the sacked workers. The three shop stewards dismissed
the proposed settlement and decided to separate from
the other workers and sue the union the company and
the airport. The union called the other workers to
a meeting to report on the meeting, but as agreement
could have been reached the dispute was wound up and
is now set to go to tribunal.
in September the sacked workers sent an e-mail to
Downtown Radio telling their news desk that they were
going to take over Transport House as they were angry
that the union had stopped their strike money of £47
per week. However when they went to Transport House
they were invited inside and were given a fair hearing.
They demanded that the strike fund be paid to all
twenty-three sacked workers immediately 'despite the
fact that fourteen of them had found new employment
within weeks of being sacked and had being fraudulently
claiming the strike fund and that they were now in
the process of suing the union.'
I was then contacted by a leading member of the Socialist
Party and asked what had happened. They called me
back the next day and claimed that the airport workers
were denying my version and claiming that the union
were shafting them. I was then contacted by Bowyer
and Gupta and during one of the conversions with Bowyer
I asked him what would they settle for. He said that
he and McNeill would go away for X amount. I asked
what about Gupta and the rest. He said that Gupta
doesnt need the money and would be happier if
McCusker and Condit were sacked and that the rest
of the workers would settle for a four figure sum
as it stands. The sacked workers from Belfast International
Airport are back where they started from when I first
met them - on their own and without a friend in the
trade union movement. First the workers were shafted
by 'ICTS and the ATGWUs bureaucrats and careerists';
and now the workers have been shafted by 'their shop
stewards and that idiot, from that so-called socialist
the so-called socialist who advised the shop stewards
- who at the start of this saga were gullible naive
workers who believed that their union official was
on their side - I say 'shame on you.' YUou took advantage
of workers in plight, workers who were unable to make
rational decisions because they were so full of hatred
and mistrust. For your own partys political
gains, your interference has lead to the bureaucrats
and careerists behind the plight of the airport workers
getting off the hook, and will no doubt lead to more
workers being shafted by these so called trade unionists.
Watch how McCusker handles the forthcoming dispute
in Translink. He will never be seen nor heard on TV
or radio and will shaft the workers rather than shaft
To the sacked airport workers I wish you well and
good luck in court. As for the two shop stewards the
words of George Orwells Animal Farm come
uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse.
They rushed back and looked through the window again.
Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were
shouting, banging on the table, sharp suspicious
glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble
appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr Pilkington had
each played an ace of spades simultaneously. Twelve
voices were shouting in anger, and they were all
alike. No question, now, what had happened to the
faces of the pigs? The creatures outside looked
from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig
to man again, but already it was impossible to say
which was the which.
for myself I have decided not to seek re-election
to the district committee. For while the ATGWU employs
this scum and the two scumbag scabs in Belfast - Hodges
and Henderson - who have helped the scum bureaucrats
and careerists masquerading as trade unionists with
their pathetic attack on innocent workers, my integrity
no longer permits me to contribute anything towards
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