Unite’s lies exposed

On 20.07.08 Unite published a statement on the union website entitled, “Belfast Airport Workers, The Truth and Nothing but The Truth. This statement gives a completely false account of what has happened in this dispute.

For example, it claims that, in 2003, T&GWU officials, under the direction of Tony Woodley, negotiated a deal with ICTS that could have settled the dispute. It falsely claims that, under this deal, all the sacked workers, apart from the shop stewards, were to be offered reinstatement. In fact, jobs were to be offered to six of the workers and it was made clear that the shop stewards would never be re-employed at the airport.


It also falsely claims that, if the deal was accepted, the union could have pursued legal cases on behalf of the shop stewards. In fact the deal for the shop stewards was that they should accept a pittance of compensation (out of which they would have to repay their strike pay to the union) as a final settlement, in other words in return for dropping of all pending legal cases relating to their sacking.


The statement claims that union officials put this offer to a meeting of all the sacked workers which the shop stewards refused to attend. It says that the workers at this meeting accepted the deal but that another meeting took place in a pub nearby, attended by the shop stewards and “others” at which the workers were persuaded to reverse their earlier decision to accept the deal.


All of this is pure fiction. It is a made up version of events whose purpose is to whitewash the role played by Tony Woodley from the moment he took charge of this dispute in 2003.


We publish below a letter from TGWU official, Brendan Hodgers to the then General Secretary, Bill Morris, dated 27.08.03, reporting on these events. This letter completely refutes the claims made in the recent Unite statement.


It explains that the union convened two meetings to report back on the negotiations and the deal. The first was for the shop stewards and two of the three sacked stewards attended. They rejected the deal.


The second was for the other sacked workers. The shop stewards were not invited to this meeting – in fact they were refused permission to attend. As the Brendan Hodgers letter  makes clear, the workers at this meeting rejected the proposals “as derisory”.  This rejection was unanimous. As for the second meeting in a pub nearby, this, like so much else in this dispute, has just been made up by the Unite leadership to try to justify themselves and put the blame for all that has happened on the shoulders of the shop stewards and “others”.


It is unfortunate that the leaders of this great union feel it is necessary to lie their way out of the mess they have created for themselves.  This makes it double important that their attempt to bribe Gordon McNeill into silence does not succeed. If Gordon was silenced the Unite leaders could make up whatever story they wanted and present it as “The Truth and Nothing but the Truth”.


Read Brendan Hodgers letter here


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