/** Tools */

11 August 2005

Gate Gourmet sacks 500 workers

Workers at Gate Gourmet, a struggling international airline catering company were having a few issues with workers getting ideas above their station and demanding that they have some sort of employment rights.

Gate Gourmet cleverly hired 130 'seasonal workers' (read: 'cheap labour to whom there are no contractual obligations') at a time when permanent staff had been facing the prospect of redundancy for some months. Understandably miffed about being told there were no jobs for them at the same time as casual labour was being hired, about 350 workers walked out in an impromptu strike.

Gate gourmet sacked them all.

Then, when the afternoon shift turned up for work unaware of what had happened that morning, they too were also sacked in the confusion. The Antagonist would like to report that the managers then sacked themselves and committed Hari Kari but, as yet, that hasn't happened.

In the resulting chaos, passengers on 40 long-haul British Airways flights on the day were forced to fly without in-flight meals. Poor dears. 500 ex-Gate Gourmet workers and their families may have to sit at home without in-house meals but that's obviously not the issue when the comfort of airline passengers is at stake. That most of these passengers were attempting to escape for one or two of the three or four weeks they work 11 months of the year to be allowed to have to themselves is generally not a factor for consideration in these situations but The Antagonist is partial to mentioning the unmentionable every now and then.

The Gate Gourmet web site, proudly proclaims, "Welcome Onboard - Above the Wing and Around the World!" The Antagonist can only presume that Gate Gourmet management have been far too busy sacking people to worry about changing this to, "Bye Bye - Below the Belt and Bowing to Bankruptcy!"

How does this mass-sacking of staff get reported in the media? Let's take a look at a few of the world's headlines:

Eight stories about poor passengers with no in-flight meals, and no mention of the sacking of 500 employees in any of the headlines. Bringing up the rear, we have:

500 people sacked and only two stories out of ten search results which contain any reference to the mass-sacking in their headlines, thereby making the details about the sacking 'visible' only to anyone vacuous enough to care about whether BA passengers are fed an in-flight meal or not.

This technique of using headlines that focus on side-issues, rather than the issue at the heart of the matter, is used to great effect to hide the real issues, shape public opinion and then the nature of acceptable public debate that ensues.

Watch out for it, it's everywhere.

No comments: