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Belfast Airport workers continue their battle
The three former TGWU stewards at ICTS security firm at Belfast International Airport, whose victory in an Employment Tribunal we reported in issue 500, were back in London on 20/21 September. They were attempting to get the Unite T&G section to recognise their victory and support their hardship fund and legal expenses bill.
Unfortunately, since their previous visit to Transport House in August, it seemed that the union was prevaricating on supporting their claims. After meeting joint general secretary Tony Woodley on 20 September, they felt that the union was not doing enough to back them up. So despite the ill health and personal hardships these comrades suffered, they decided to begin a hunger strike from 1pm on 21 September.
Tony Woodley met them briefly before they started their action, saying they would not be helped if they went ahead with it, and suggesting they would have to leave within two hours.
It was 4.20pm when two other officials came down and negotiated for two hours. The wording of a 'without prejudice' letter was agreed which the stewards accepted as enough to call off their hunger strike.
The letter stated that consideration of their hardship cases would be made, and that when a fully-itemised bill from their solicitor was received a decision on payment would be received in seven days. Also that the union would look sympathetically on funding any costs incurred, should the employers appeal against the judgement of the Employment Tribunal.
While this is a step forward, it is in no way a definitive guarantee of support from the union.
The stewards are hoping that Unite members can put pressure on the union's leadership to ensure that this victory for trade unionism in the courts is not tempered by the ruin, financial or otherwise, of the workers who won that groundbreaking legal judgement.
* When the airport workers were in London, film director Ken Loach met them and gave them his support.
In The Socialist 27 September 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news