The Blanket

Grounding The Working Class
Sean Smyth


It is the first anniversary of the sacking of the 24 airport workers for striking against poverty pay. These workers have gained overwhelming support from ordinary workers across the country but have been sold out by their union leadership. Within their union there is growing support for their campaign and they are determined to fight for justice. That's why it is important that everybody makes a speacial effort to make it along to this Saturdays demo to show solidarity. Leaflet for the demo below

In a disgraceful move Belfast International Airport has sacked twenty-two workers for striking against poverty wages. In May last year, security workers at Belfast International airport went on strike. All of the workers at the time employed by ICTS and were members of the TGWU. The strike was against the derisory wages and conditions that their company was offering. Workers were paid as little as £4.75 an hour (approx 9K), with no overtime or sick pay. This was in contrast to workers in Luton airport who did the same job for the same company for 20K per year. It was also in contrast to other workers in the airport such as porters who were on over £6 an hour with six months paid sick pay and
overtime rates of double pay.

The strike had been properly balloted, with 97% voting in favour of strike action. After the first round of industrial action the matter went to the Labour Relations Agency, but workers said that management showed no genuine desire to negotiate and the workers decided to continue with industrial action. After receiving confirmation from T&G officials that the action was official and therefore legal the workers decided to go out on the 14th May between 4am and 8am. That day they again sought and received confirmation from T&G officials that the strike was official. However on the 2nd day of the action the same officials issued a repudiation notice to the employers and the two shop stewards Gordon McNeill and Madan Gupta, designating the strike illegal. The employers were over the moon and used the repudiation notice to sack the two shop stewards and another 22 of the striking workers. Some of the sacked workers had been at the airport for decades.

After the sackings there was practically no support from the T&G official. The ICTS management has been openly applauding the great way they were able to get rid of these workers on what was little more than a technicality. The two shop stewards had been seen as a thorn in the side of their bosses for continuously demanding fair play for workers at the airport.

Since they have been sacked there have been many changes to the hours worked by other workers at the airport. Some have found that their hours have jumped from 39 per week to 45. There is no doubt that the airport is
pleased to be rid of these people as an example to others who are thinking of taking similar actions.

The twenty-two sacked workers have started a campaign to fight for re-instatement. They are completely united and determined to fight this gross injustice. They have been touring workplaces and gathering support from a whole range of workers for their campaign. So far members of the TGWU, the FBU, NIPSA, the CWU etc have pledged their support for the 24th. They have forced the leadership of the TGWU to also come out and back the rally on the 24th and pledge their support for the campaign. They are determined that Northern Ireland Employers will not be allowed to get away with paying poverty wages and sacking anyone who dares to fight back

Why you should support the sacked workers:
a.. Northern Ireland has some of the lowest wages in Western Europe
b.. Northern Ireland has a higher proportion of people living below the
poverty line than the rest of the UK
c.. Homelessness in Northern Ireland is worse than anywhere else in the

The airport workers are striking a blow for working class people all over the North. If they are successful it will send a message to the employers and the politicians that low pay and poor conditions will not be tolerated any longer.

Visit these websites for regular updates articles and reports
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