Criticised union boss joins TNT

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The Independent Online
A FORMER union official who was criticised bitterly for his handling of a union dispute with TNT, the transport company, has been appointed head of employee relations at one of TNT's subsidiaries.

Until last December Victor McGeer was the national officer for road transport at the Transport and General Workers' Union.

While there he was a negotiator for the newspaper lorry drivers in a dispute with TNT that began in 1991.

Mr McGeer was criticised for his handling of the dispute, which resulted in 600 TNT Newsfast drivers, who had previously broken picket lines for Rupert Murdoch's News International newspapers, being sacked.

The dispute arose after Mr Murdoch threatened to take the contract, which had been agreed on a cost-plus basis, to a new supplier unless TNT agreed to cut its price.

After two days of meetings, Mr McGeer persuaded his TGWU members to break up the company's joint negotiating committee.

Five days later TNT sacked 600 drivers and replaced them with drivers on inferior wages and conditions.

According to Tony Holmes, a former Newsfast shop steward, 'when the axe fell McGeer was suddenly unavailable. He refused to meet us for a month and failed to answer our letters asking for help . . .

'We saw him drinking with two of the TNT managers but he would not help us. Every shop steward complained.'

Mr McGeer said: 'The discussions on redundancy issues were undertaken in the context of a very clear statement from the company that every single employee on the News International Contract could avail himself of the option to be dismissed by reason of redundancy and to qualify for the redundancy package, not only because some 460 jobs would disappear, but also because the company would be introducing new terms and conditions which would be substantially inferior to those applying up until 6 October 1991.'

TNT declined to comment, except to confirm his appointment at TNT Express UK.

(Photograph omitted)

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