Talks in Heathrow catering row break down

Talks between catering firm Gate Gourmet and the Transport and General Workers Union have broken down after the two sides failed to reach an agreement.

Discussions resumed earlier today in an attempt to resolve the dispute, which resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of British Airways flights last week.

The TGWU and Gate Gourmet are deadlocked over the re-employment of the workers who were sacked last week. The union want all the workers to be reinstated – an option, which is not favoured by the company.

The dispute began on Wednesday last week, when over 650 staff from Gate Gourmet, who provide catering on British Airways flights, were sacked, over alleged unofficial strike action.

The sackings prompted around 1,000 fellow union members on the BA staff to walk out on an unofficial strike in support. The ensuing dispute resulted in the cancellation of around 700 BA flights at a cost to the company of around £40 million.

However, BA flights are now almost back to normal, with reports that only 155 passengers remain stranded because of the disruption. On Friday, around 70,000 passengers were left stranded because of the catering dispute.

The row intensified yesterday when an article in the ‘Daily Mirror’ suggested that the company had planned in advance to provoke the workers into an unofficial strike, in order to sack staff.

Gate Gourmet blamed managers who were no longer with the company for drafting the document in question as a proposal.

Eric Born, CEO Gate Gourmet UK, said: “The recommendations within previous managers’ proposal were sheer lunacy. Clearly stories like this are planted in newspapers to try and derail the negotiation process by people who have no interest in safeguarding jobs at Gate Gourmet.”

Gate Gourmet has stated that it is facing a financial crisis and needs to restructure the company. Last year, the firm reportedly lost £23 million and faces losing another £25 million this year.


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