Who would have thought back in 2002, that when a group of low paid airport security workers went on strike for a fifty pence an hour pay rise, the action would be the start of a six year battle for justice, not only from their employer, but also from their union? Who would have thought that this struggle would involve not just pickets and demonstrations at the airport, but also protests and even hunger strikes outside their union offices in Belfast and in London?
Certainly not the workers who had voted 100% in favour of the action and certainly not the shop stewards who organised and led them. To them this was a straightforward issue; a struggle against poverty pay. All they were looking for was £6 an hour, to give them parity with the airport porters. They expected, as most workers would, that their union, the T&GWU, having sanctioned the strike would stand by and support them.
There were certainly not prepared for the betrayal that was to follow. Their action had barely begun when it was repudiated by the union. Their own official, Joe McCusker, who had organised the ballot and assured them that the strike was official, secretly colluded with Managing Directors of ICTS to have half of those who went on strike, including all the shop stewards, sacked.
One year later the union leadership negotiated a rotten deal with ICTS, which all the sacked workers rejected. From that time the workers were effectively abandoned by the union. They were left to continue with a legal battle against their employer, which after years of hearings, delays and appeals, they eventually won in June of this year.
Throughout this time they have fought a battle for justice from their union. They have demanded a full explanation of what happened in 2002, when the union leadership handed them up as a sacrifice to their employer. They have also demanded an explanation of why the union leadership then abandoned them and left them to continue the fight against ICTS on their own.
- From the introduction