How Unite could have resolved this last year

The letter that Tony Woodley chose to ignore

One year ago (12 June 2007) Gordon McNeill wrote a letter to Tony Woodley offering a way to resolve all the differences between the airport workers and the union. The letter was also sent to other T&GWU officials in Ireland, including Irish Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly.

The letter was written immediately after the Fair Employment Tribunal hearing was completed but before the Tribunal had reached a decision. It was written in anticipation of the Tribunal finding in the workers favour and offered the union a change to get on board before the finding was announced.

As the letter says: “It would in my view, be an extremely positive message to send out to the trade union movement as a whole, that you as our union, backed us fully in our final push for justice. There is in my view a real opportunity to have one of the most effective recruitment moments in the history of our union through our dispute with ICTS……”

Had the Unite leadership responded positively to this offer all that has happened in the past year, including the current hunger strike, could have been avoided.

Sadly neither Tony Woodley nor Jimmy Kelly never replied to this genuine attempt to resolve the differences and use the airport workers’ victory to build the union.

We publish the full text of Gordon McNeill’s letter to allow Unite members and other trade unionists to see who the unreasonable party is in this long running dispute.



Gordon McNeill

25 Summerfield Street


Co. Antrim

N. Ireland

BT43 7DP


12th June 2007







Dear General Secretary,

                                       I the above named write to you in a common spirit, which I believe to be in both our interests as fellow Trade Unionists.


As you are in no doubt aware, I have been in dispute with my former Employer namely ICTS UK Ltd. for exactly five years now.

I have just finished my full tribunal hearing case with same, in the Fair Employment Tribunal Court, Belfast on the 8th June 07 in that I have alleged Political Opinion Discrimination as a Trade Union Shop Steward, and that Trade Unionism in its self is a viable political opinion which can not be open to discrimination by ruthless employers.


If the said Tribunal holds my view, and finds in my favour, it will have the potential to change the entire face of anti-trade union laws in the United Kingdom

It is in this spirit of such a potential MONUMENTAL moment in the history of the Trade Union Movement, I’m offering you the proverbial “Olive Branch” in order that we may try and reach a positive conclusion, in trying to end the long running hostilities we as both parties seem to have for each other at the moment.


I would rather air our differences in private and try to reach an accommodation between ourselves, without the need to quote “wash our dirty linen in public” unquote. I believe the only people whom will benefit in fight within the courts system between ourselves, is the very people we as Trade Unionists, oppose…… Employers……the members will not understand all the personalities involved, or the depth of feeling between us, all they will see is a divided house.

That is why I seek to talk with you first.


It would in my view, be an extremely positive message to send to the Trade Union Movement as a whole, that you as you as our Union backed us fully in our final push for justice. There is in my view a real opportunity to have one of the most effective recruitment moments in the history of our union through our dispute with ICTS, and I urge you to seize upon this very important fact, that puts its members before personalities, if you follow my understanding.


In coming straight to the point, and all personalities aside, there is a small window of time of approx, two weeks, before the Court delivers its decision, and I would love to be in a position to be able to say we are all acting with one voice in this matter should we win.


If we win Political Discrimination, there will be a massive media interest as it will effect the whole UK, and on a personal note I would much rather be in a position to be saying positive things about the Unions, as opposed to being drawn into negativity and recriminations which in my view as Trade Unionists is not what I want, we need to show united front….


There is no point in trying to ignore the elephant in the living room as it were, lol lol, attempt at humour, lol lol.

I have issues with you as a Union, and am sure you, have issues with me also, but in putting the testosterone to the side for a moment, I think it in the much wider interests of the entire Trade Union Movement for us to meet up and explore the possibility (of) finding common ground between us, I suspect there is more that unites us, than divides us….


If you are receiving this letter in the spirit it is being constructed in, and are agreeable to meeting up, it is totally without prejudice and pre-conditions. This is simply to see if we can bring to an end once and for all this very obvious and extremely protracted disagreement between ourselves, while we have been in dispute with what I can only describe as the most overtly, anti-Trade Union Employer I have ever seen in the United Kingdom, namely ICTS UK.


I trust you will give my request for talks a favourable hearing.


Yours, and still a fellow Trade Unionist,


Gordon McNeill


Let’s “jaw, jaw” Not “war war”, we are still brothers when all is said and done!



Jimmy Kelly

Eugene McGlone

Des Henderson

Sean Smith



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