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Saturday Night At the Square

an06co | 27.04.2006 14:34 | Mayday 2006 | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | London

Benefit night at the Square Social Centre to raise money for the sacked Gate Gourmet workers.

7.30pm – 9pm
Land and Freedom. A moving Ken Loach film about a young Liverpudlian who joins the fight against fascism during the Spanish civil war

9pm – 1am
Benefit Night. Fundraiser for the sacked Gate Gourmet workers
featuring live bands, Known (Dark rock from south london), the Sattelites (combat rock) the Loveless (downtrodden blues), d.js, food & drink (donation on the door £5/£3)

150 workers sacked by Gate Gourmet last year are still fighting to regain their jobs. Unable to claim benefits or find new employment (plus the T & G one of the 'big four' unions who were supposed to represent them have stopped their hardship fund) they are struggling to make ends meet. This benefit is to show solidarity for those workers.

Background information - - - - - - - - -

On Wednesday, August 10th, 2005, Gate Gourmet sacked 670 workers employed at Heathrow. Fellow workers reporting for duty on Thursday 11th August were faced with the ultimatum of signing a new contract which would slash pay and conditions or face the sack. Workers were sacked by megaphone on the spot, and it became clear that people on holiday or even in hospital on sick leave had also been sacked.

It was later revealed that management had planned to provoke a confrontation and sack workers for almost a year. A plan costing £2.5 million was expected to save the company £6.5 million a year. Gate Gourmet deliberately provoked a confrontation to attack pay and conditions.
The workers' response

The Gate Gourmet workers themselves immediately began picketing both Heathrow airport and Gate Gourmet and called for solidarity from other workers. Around a thousand British Airways staff answered and went on unofficial strike at Heathrow airport. Gate Gourmet was forced back to the negotiating table, but is still stalling and issuing threats.

Gate Gourmet claim that the company must cut costs to survive, they claim that the sacked workers are endangering all jobs by 'making trouble' and refusing to cooperate. Their own behaviour proves this is rubbish. They provoked the confrontation, they refused to negotiate - only solidarity action from other workers forced them back to the table. The confrontation was provoked by bringing in workers from temp agencies, on lower pay, with fewer rights and with no protection against arbitrary sackings.

The factory is now being run by temporary workers, who are far easier for management to exploit and intimidate. The sacked workers earned between £12,000 and £16,000 a year, and this in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world, and yet even this was not low enough for Gate Gourmet who seek to use casual workers as an excuse to pay poverty wages and avoid any responsibility for pensions or sick pay.

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