Airport workers "True trade unionists"

Airport workers protest during the Belfast May Day march, 2003

"What has happened to you is a disgrace. You are true trade unionists". These were the words of former T&GWU General Secretary, Jack Jones, now a leading campaigner on behalf of pensioners, when he met the three shop stewards who were sacked by Belfast International airport for striking against poverty pay. Gordon McNeill, Madan Gupta and Chris Boyer were in London at the beginning of June to lobby the General Executive Committee of the T&GWU, pressing their case for an enquiry into the role played by union officials who repudiated their strike and gave a green light to the company to get rid of them.

Meanwhile, back home, the fight for justice and reinstatement goes on. This was the theme of a demonstration through Belfast city centre on 24 May, called to mark the anniversary of the sackings. Most of the 22 sacked workers took part, supported by 150 trade unionists and other supporters including Socialist Party members. Speakers at the rally included Jim Barbour of the FBU, Tanya Killen, a leader of the Social Workers dispute, Carmel Gates, President of NIPSA and Peter Hadden on behalf of the Socialist Party.

Plans are now underway for a rally at the airport on 26 July. The shop stewards are also considering putting up a tent at the entrance to the airport so that they can have a permanent protest there over the summer. Gordon McNeill commented to Socialist Voice: "anyone who thinks we are going to let this drop is very much mistaken. Our campaign will continue until we get justice both from the airport and from our union."

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