Belfast Telegraph

Unfairly sacked Aldergrove staff demand inquiry into employers

By Emily Moulton

Disgruntled Aldergrove Airport security staff, who have won almost £600,000 in compensation for unfair dismissal, have called for the Executive to launch an inquiry into their former employer, ICTS.

The group want Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness to examine the company's operations after a tribunal found that 22 workers were unfairly sacked following a pay dispute in 2002.

The workers, who staged a strike, were sacked by ICTS for taking part in what turned out to be an unofficial strike.

The employees claimed that their union, the ATGWU, went "behind their backs" and discounted their pay protest without informing them.

An industrial tribunal ruled in their favour in 2005, saying the strike was lawful and official.

But it has taken a further two years for the workers' claim to be finally recognised and compensation paid.

Gordon McNeill, a former shop steward who was sacked and has been one of the leaders of the campaign, said they now wanted the Assembly to take action.

He said ICTS, which handled security at Belfast International, had acted " disgracefully".

The tribunal found that Mr McNeill and three fellow shop stewards who lost their jobs - Madan Gupta, Chris Bowyer and Malcolm Spencer - had suffered unlawful discrimination.

"We want a full inquiry into this," he said. "We will be going to the Public Prosecution Service and we will be seeking a meeting with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister."

The industrial tribunal report said that the ICTS finance director knew " that a lawful stoppage was going to take place" and that a letter of repudiation from the union was "invalid".

The tribunal said that to dismiss the claimants in such circumstances was not reasonable.

It went on to say that it found the evidence given by the claimants was " much more credible" than those given by ICTS, whose representatives had " difficulty in remembering anything other than what they wanted to remember" .

A spokesman from ICTS said that they had received the ruling on Monday and the company had no immediate comment.

"We are considering the ruling, and will make a comment, if necessary, in due course," he said.

In addition to calling for an inquiry, Mr McNeill, Mr Gupta and Mr Bowyer also want to hold the ATGWU accountable and to highlight this, intend to stage a hunger strike at the union's headquarters in London tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph