Sunday, 27 July 2008

Two Hunger Strikers Now in Hospital

wo of the three sacked airport workers on hunger-strike outside their union offices in Belfast are now in hospital. Earlier today Gordon McNeill was rushed to hospital only to be released, Gordon and 72 year old diabetic Madan Gupta are now both in hospital.

Just hours after addressing a solidarity rally outside Transport House in Belfast hunger striker Gordon McNeill was rushed to City Hospital for treatment. An ambulance was called to the scene at Transport House due to a deterioration in his condition. Gordon is on his fourth day without food and his second day without water. Also on hunger strike are Madan Gupta and Chris Bowyer. The former airport shop stewards have taken the action to demand talks with the leadership of Unite/TGWU, who have refused to meet with the workers.

Both Gordon McNeill and Madan Gupta have been rushed to Belfast City Hospital in a critical condition.

Gordon has been hospitalised for a second time. Quickly after returning to Transport House, he and 72 year-old diabetic Madan Gupta were both rushed to Belfast City Hospital. Doctors earlier today warned that both McNeill and Gupta are likely to have suffered irreversible kidney damage as a result of their refusal to eat and drink. UNITE still refuse to meet with the workers who have been fighting for over 6 years for justice.

This dispute began seven years ago when the shop stewards approached the then ATGWU (now part of UNITE) to ballot airport security workers for industrial action to secure a pay increase from a paltry £5.50 an hour to £6.00 an hour. The shop stewards were unlawfully dismissed by multi-national security firm ICTS as a result. The current hunger strike outside Transport House is in protest at UNITE/ATGWU's reneging on a promise to pay the legal costs of an appeal lodged by ICTS.

Last year the shop stewards won a tribunal (without ATGWU backing) that ruled that they had been unlawfully dismissed because of their socialist and trade union beliefs. The leadership of UNITE/ATGWU, who Madan Gupta referred to as "Scum" at a solidarity rally on Wednesday 9th, have refused to pay the legal costs of defending the appeal despite agreeing to meet those costs last September.

ICTS was able to sack the workers because the leadership of the ATGWU repudiated the strike six years ago behind the airport security workers backs. The strike was since found to have been fully legal. UNITE General Secretary Tony Woodley and Irish Regional Secretary and SWP member Jimmy Kelly have continuously reneged on commitments to back the sacked workers. Instead Jimmy Kelly used the police against the hunger strikers and their supporters on two occasions.

Support the hunger strikers. Visit the url listed in the comments below and let UNITE/ATGWU officials know what you think of their treatment of these workers. Visit the protest on the steps of Transport House. Attend the rally today at lunchtime outside Transport House and show your support.

for more into go to indymedia ireland or contact Chris Bowyer on 07764850945, Madan Gupta on 07810290938 or Gary Mulcahy on 07743282321.