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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Gate Gourmet crisis

It has been widely reported that most of the people who have been fired by Gate Gourmet, an airline caterer in London’s Heathrow Airport, were Indians. A more careful reading of all the news reports revealed that the firm behind Gate Gourmet is private equity investor Texas Pacific Group (TPG). Vivek Paul is going to join TPG as a partner. Wonder whether he could have prevented this in some way.

Sanjay Suri, Outlook’s London correspondent has more on the developments at Gate Gourmet

Like the Gate Gourmet workers, those who struck work at Heathrow were largely Indian. The sympathy strike was an indication of how closely networked the world of Indian workers is around Heathrow. Within hours, illiterate women from Punjab found that they had the power to break London's strongest connection with the world. The airlines world was reminded that it takes more than just a pilot, fuel and passengers to fly an aircraft. It takes staff that checks you in, baggage handlers to ensure that the right suitcases get into the right plane, it takes some bland food on a plastic tray that a passenger must have soon after lift-off. At Heathrow, all this is usually the forte of an Indian from Punjab.

"Very simple. Apne bande who came to Heathrow started to settle in Southall because it was cheap and very close to the airport," said Sohan Lal, a Punjabi Londoner of 1967 batch seniority. Through days of protest on a grassy roadside near Heathrow, there was plenty of time to talk about these things. "They started calling relatives and people from their villages who came to stay with them. They got jobs at the Ford assembly here, in a rubber factory, in daliye (porridge) di factory, biskutaan di factory. And Heathrow."


  • Hi Kaps,

    I also read the Outlook article yesterday.I dont blame TPG for it. They looking at creating "value" and flipping the "asset" in short term so as PE guys do what it takes and cost cutting is priority No.1. Also, Vivek Paul is of the same mettle having cut his teeth in GE Medical and GE are legendary in doing all decisions on financial analysis basis only.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:06 PM  

  • Shucks...didn't know one could be so influencial.....

    jammy from http://ouchmytoe.rediffblogs.com

    By Blogger Editor, at 11:02 PM  

  • dunno if TPG could have had a say in day-to-day operations of Gate Gourmet. maybe. but one thing for sure, nothing can be a pushover.

    By Blogger saranyan, at 9:06 AM  

  • The strike became too big, primarily 'cos lot of relatives and family members were also employed in the airport.
    Guess it was all in the family :)

    By Blogger Venky Krishnamoorthy, at 11:35 AM  

  • The last line in the article "Heard that before from someone else", sums it all up perfectly.

    By Blogger WA, at 12:05 PM  

  • Kaps,
    Why would have Paul intervened? He's a global manager who happens to be of Indian origin. Even as CEO of WT and vice presedient of Wipro Ltd, paul's base was Mountain View and not Bangalore. He would end up spending upto six months in Bangalore but that was on visits and his family was always in California.
    Given these and his track record, it is unlikely that he would have prevented any job losses just because they were Indian and/or Punjabi in particular.
    -- puddles

    By Blogger puddlefrog, at 3:58 PM  

  • Hi All,
    I do agree that Vivek Paul is a global manager and he can't do much in such strategic decisions. However they could have handled this issue in a better manner.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 11:00 PM  

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