Article from the Jan 2005 issue of the Socialist , newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI
Sacked airport workers' tribunal
Employers & union officials in the dock
by Peter Hadden
AFTER A long delay, the sacked airport security workers finally were able to have their case against their employer, ICTS, heard at an Industrial Tribunal at the end of last year.
The workers were sacked when they went on strike in May 2002 against the low wages paid by ICTS. The workers took this action only after they received an assurance from their union official, Joe McCusker of the T&GWU, that the strike was legal and would have the official backing of the union.
Yet within a day of the walkout the union had withdrawn their backing and repudiated the strike. This acted as a green light to ICTS to go ahead with the sackings.
For more than two and a half years, the sacked workers have conducted a campaign, spearheaded by the three shop stewards, to uncover the facts that led to their sacking, especially why T&GWU officials acted as they did.
The decision of the tribunal on whether or not the strike was legal is not yet out as we go to press. However the facts uncovered in the week long hearing more than vindicate the stand taken by the shop stewards and the sacked workers.
ICTS failed to put up any real legal defence. They failed to produce any papers, their notes of relevant meetings having been conveniently lost. Joe McCusker "could not remember" the details of what happened and had no notes.
At the end of the hearing sacked shop steward, Gordon McNeill, told the Socialist that the workers felt the Tribunal had gone well and that their long struggle, which had included hunger strike protests in the T&GWU's Transport House offices, had been fully justified.
"Whatever the finding, our struggle to bring effective change in the T&GWU will continue. We want an effective union that will represent its members against employers like ICTS, not act in the hand in glove manner that has been clearly exposed in this Tribunal.
"On the back of the Tribunal decision we will be demanding that the T&GWU holds a disciplinary enquiry which must go right to the top of the union. We are not out for revenge but for justice and that means we must have effective socialist change in our union."
Earlier reports from the Belfast International Airport workers dispute
The SP produced a booklet on this dispute dealing with a number of issues, here it is.