Archive : 10,000 idle at Cowley plant after shop stewards thwart return to work by strikers

Two thousand British Leyland car workers yesterday defied their shop stewards and returned to work at the Cowley plant. This has been at a standstill for three days following the introduction of industrial engineers to carry out work measurement and other studies. The defiance was short-lived. Shop stewards persuaded one or two sections of the assembly line to stop work.

Without them it was impossible to keep the line moving and the remainder of the 2,000, had to be sent home. Last night 8,000 men were on strike or laid off in the assembly plant and 2,400 laid off in the adjoining body plant. Senior shop stewards representing the major unions at Cowley are signatories to an agreement which approves the introduction of industrial engineers. They were introduced six months ago, but were withdrawn following protests about “stop-watch overseers “.

Subsequent negotiations failed to resolve the issue. Last week management brought back the industrial engineers. On Monday groups of men walked out and by the following day all assembly had stopped. Today all 8,000 will receive a letter restating the company’s determination to use industrial engineers. Signed by Mr John Symonds, plant director, it says that under no circumstances will the company give up the right to manage the business.

It expects employees to honour conditions of employment and agreements reached and warns that a continuation of the strike will not reduce the company’s determination on “this fundamental issue” .

“Every day that the dispute is prolonged seriously jeopardizes your own earnings and security: Your future is at stake and that of your family “, it concludes.

Triumph are recalling 7,500 men laid off at their Coventry plant in anticipation of a return to work on Monday by 130 clerical workers. They staged a four-day protest strike against delays in implementing a January 1 pay agreement. The company says its hands are tied by the Government’s pay pause.

Keith Adams

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