Gate Gourmet Timeline

  • 1997

    British Airways sells its in–house catering operations to Gate Gourmet.

  • 2000

    Under pressure to cut costs, Gate Gourmet, the world’s second biggest supplier of in–flight meals, reports first loss.

  • 2002

    Texas Pacific Group buys Gate Gourmet from Swissair.

  • 2004

    Union negotiations begin with Gate Gourmet over changing working practices.

  • March 2005

    Virgin Atlantic cancels contract with Gate Gourmet.

  • August 2005

    10 August: Workers returning from their tea break find agency staff working on the production line. About 200 workers assemble in the canteen where they are joined by shop stewards.  Management warns them twice by megaphone that if they do not resume work immediately they will be sacked. They are held in the canteen for about seven hours and then a lockout is imposed by Gate Gourmet.

    British Airways (BA) baggage handlers, bus drivers and ground staff stage solidarity strike action, paralysing flights for 48 hours.

    11 August: 300 Gate Gourmet workers reporting for duty are  asked to sign a new contract with worse pay and conditions.

    12 August: Conciliation service ACAS holds talks between Gate Gourmet and Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU).

    12 August: BA staff return to work as their union TGWU declares their secondary strike action is illegal.

    26 August: TGWU District Officer Oliver Richardson announces  that an agreement has been reached with Gate Gourmet. This offers:  reinstatement for some workers (on new terms and conditions), voluntary redundancies for some and compulsory redundancies for others who will be offered compensation..

  • January 2006

    5 January: British Airways (BA) sacks a second shop steward who had been charged with organising unofficial secondary strike action at Heathrow on August 11th–12th 2005.

    25 January: The TGWU hardship fund for Gate Gourmet workers is closed and the last payment is made to the sacked workers still pressing for reinstatement.

  • 2007

    March: On the brink of bankruptcy, Gate Gourmet is bought by 40 institutional investors including Merrill Lynch.

    18 May: Reading Employment Tribunal hears the claims for unfair dismissal of 37 workers against Gate Gourmet.

    12 June: The  Employment Tribunal dismisses all but four of the 37 claims for unfair dismissal by sacked Gate Gourmet workers.

    6 November: Gate Gourmet admits that it wrongfully dismissed eight workers who had all been off work sick, or on holiday or on compassionate leave on August 10 2005.


  • 2008

    15 April: The Employment Tribunal  rules  that six of the remaining  claimants were unfairly dismissed, among them S Dhillon, the union convenor at time of the dispute.  It also found that two other shop stewards S Sandhu and H Singh were fairly dismissed because they had participated in  unofficial industrial action.

  • 2009

    2009: 56 sacked workers continue to reject the compulsory redundancy offer. Since TGWU (now UNITE) withdrew, only Newsline (part of the  Workers Revolutionary Party) continues to support them.