22/08/2005

Gate Gourmet facing administration

Gate Gourmet facing administration

Catering firm Gate Gourmet has claimed that it is facing administration unless a new contract is agreed with its main client, British Airways.

The US-owned firm, which provides catering on all BA flights from Heathrow, has warned that it will be forced into administration if a new deal cannot be worked out by 5pm on Tuesday.

Gate Gourmet is at the centre of a dispute, which resulted in severe disruptions at Heathrow airport a fortnight ago.

The dispute began when Gate Gourmet sacked 670 workers for allegedly taking unofficial strike action. The move prompted around 1,000 BA staff to walk out on unofficial strike action, which resulted in the cancellation of 700 BA flights and left thousands of passengers stranded.

Gate Gourmet has been engaged in talks with both BA and the Transport and General Workers Union, but the talks have been unsuccessful. The union has called for the sacked staff to be reinstated, but the firm says that this will not happen. Gate Gourmet is facing a financial crisis and looks set to lose £25 million this year.

The TGWU General Secretary, Tony Woodley, addressed a mass meeting on Monday. He said: “The Gate Gourmet workers’ case now goes beyond just an industrial dispute. They are the focus for the trade union movement and the fight for decency and justice in the workplace.

“We believe that British Airways should do the decent thing and resist the pressure to let Gate Gourmet benefit from their actions, but equally, BA should be clear the public support for this group of workers is massive and may well affect their business.”

BA has started to serve hot meals on its long-haul flights again for the first time since the dispute began. However, short-haul passengers are still being provided with bags of cold food prior to boarding their flights. The airline is planning to resume the service of hot meals on all their flights again from Wednesday.

The sacked Gate Gourmet workers are continuing to protest at Heathrow, despite the firm obtaining a court injunction on Sunday. The firm was granted the injunction, which limits the number of protestors who can picket outside the firms’ office, after claiming that some members of staff had suffered intimidation. However, the High Court ruled that the protests could still continue, although at a suitable distance from the office.

(KMcA/SP)

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