An update to a disturbing post from last August about two airport shop stewards who were sacked (along with another 20 colleagues) from their ICTS passenger security posts up at Belfast international Airport back in 2002.
The eventual success ...
Despite a lack of support for their case from the TGWU, an industrial tribunal has found that the staff were unfairly dismissed by ICTS and that four shop stewards had been unlawfully discriminated against. A total of £750,000 compensation was awarded.
... was tinged with disappointment as the union had refused to support their members’ case going to tribunal. Two of the shop stewards involved - Madan Gupta (72) and Gordon McNeill (38) - were left with a legal bill of £200k from fighting their dismissal ... strange given that were union representatives. They threatened to go on hunger strike unless the union launched an inquiry and paid up.
The previous action was postponed last September after Unite (Amicus and TGWU are merging into Unite) agreed to meet their demands within seven days. However those assurances failed to materialise.
Update - lunchtime - Unite/TGBU posted their press statement as a comment below, setting out their very different (but less publicised) view of the ongoing dispute. Worth a read.
Whatever the circumstances, it’s sad that the pair’s relationship with their union has been allowed over the years to deteriorate. Particularly, when unions are often the first to speak out about conciliation, mediation and the importance of good communications.
Yesterday’s Newsletter quotes McNeill explaining that they were not entering into their protest lightly:
“Madan Gupta is 72 years old and suffers from diabetes ... I am 38, but in poor health with a heart condition. We know the consequences of starting what this time is likely to be a protracted hunger strike but we are absolutely determined to face the consequences.”
And this morning’s Mirror reports that the protesters were dramatically removed from the roof of TGWU’s building in Belfast yesterday:
“ROOFTOP protesters were winched to safety yesterday by the police search and rescue unit. The three sacked Aldergrove airport workers - Gordon McNeill, 38, Madan Gupta, 72, and Chris Bowyer, 49 - set up camp on Transport House in Belfast over claims they were not represented in an industrial dispute six years ago.
Mr McNeill said: ‘We feel so strongly about this we will continue to protest until we either win or we die.’ ”
But the Newsletter plays down yesterday's drama:
“When the police arrived a number of hours into the protest, the men decided to come down off the roof voluntarily.”
“A statement from the union said allegations over reneging on paying the costs was ‘wrong’.
A spokesman said the union had complied in full: ‘There is very little chance that Mr McNeill or Mr Gupta will be required to pay a single penny towards the costs bill.’ ”
Update - Saturday morning - Hunger strike was thankfully suspended on Friday evening after union give assurances and negotiations open up on compensation. Unclear if Unite/TGBU have issued a statement.
Update - Saturday 26 April - Stumbled across an article that outlines some of the history of the long-running dispute from the side of the shop stewards.