Airport workers reply to attack by Sean Smyth
We fully endorse the points made by Peter Hadden in his reply to Sean Smyth. His account of what happened during our dispute is accurate.
We were shocked when Sean Smyth's article was brought to our attention. It is a vicious attack on low paid workers who were sacked because they went on strike for a wage increase.
Sean attacks us for threatening to take legal action against our union. We all feel that our union has let us down from the very beginning of this dispute. Our full time officer, Joe McCusker, repudiated our action only hours after he had told us it was official. The promises of full support that we got, first from Sir Bill Morris and then from Tony Woodley, have been broken.
We have lost our jobs, have suffered financial hardship and in many cases our health has been affected. Yet we have not set out to take the union to court. We wanted an internal union enquiry to establish the facts of what happened and to make sure that other T&GWU members would not be treated in the same way.
The legal action we have taken is against ICTS and the Airport. However we cannot prevent ICTS defending themselves from our unfair dismissal claim by arguing that the action was unofficial and presenting Joe McCusker's repudiation of the strike as evidence. It would then be up to the T&GWU to defend themselves from this charge to prevent the court finding them at least in part responsible.
The idea of taking legal action against the T&GWU did not come from us. Nor did it come from Peter Hadden or the Socialist Party. The first person to suggest that we should take the union to court was Sean Smyth. He and a current officer of the union even suggested a solicitor and helped arrange an appointment.
The current leadership of the union tried to pressurise us into accepting the offer that was brought to us last summer. Tony Woodley rang Gordon McNeill and argued that it was a good deal and should be accepted. Sean Smyth also rang Gordon and said it was a very reasonable offer, the best that we would get, and that we should be realistic and take it.
Despite this pressure we turned it down, and did so unanimously, because it was a rotten deal.
It was after this that people like Sean Smyth, who had backed us in the early stages, began to attack us. His article is typical of the arguments that were used against us. He made very serious allegations that were totally untrue against the three shop stewards to members of the Socialist Party last autumn.
When these points were related to the shop stewards they arranged a meeting between three members of the Socialist Party and the sacked workers, without the shop stewards present, to clear these matters up.
When this was successfully done an offer was then made to Sean Smyth that a similar meeting would take place for him to attend, along with anyone else he wanted to bring. Sean never took up this offer.
Perhaps we were a little "na´ve" at the beginning of this battle in that we did not expect our union to behave in the way it did. Nor did we expect that people like Sean Smyth who started out backing us would end up slandering us in the way he has. We have learned a lot, not least who our real friends are!
On behalf of the 23 sacked airport workers