Three former TGWU shop stewards have called off a hunger strike after claiming victory in their dispute with their trade union.
Gordon McNeill, Madan Gupta and Chris Bowyer were dismissed as shop stewards by the TGWU and sacked from their jobs as security staff at Belfast International Airport in May 2002 - along with 21 other people - after a strike. They were demanding a TGWU inquiry, made up of rank and file members of the union, to uncover the truth about the role played by their union official, Joe McCusker, and other officials.
The strike at Belfast Airport was over pay and they claim they were wrongly advised by the union that their action was officially recognised. It turned out that the protest was deemed to be unofficial, meaning strikers were in breach of their employment contracts.
Gordon McNeill: "In May 2002 our union official, Joe McCusker, called us out on official strike. Then, when we were on strike, he told our employer that he had repudiated our action and the company used this as their excuse to sack us. We have now found out that a week earlier he had given the company an assurance that there would be no strike.
"We want to know why this happened. Were we set up? What links, if any, existed between our official and our employer, ICTS? We have been asking these question for nearly two years and have not been given answers. That is why we need an inquiry.
"Going on hunger strike might seem to many a desperate step to take in order to get the union to take the very simple step of setting up an inquiry. But we have been driven to this, we have been slandered, vilified and threatened to the point that we feel our lives have been ruined, and we want to get to the truth in order to clear our names."
The inquiry the hunger strikers have been demanding will now go ahead.