Archive : 20,000 car men idle: TUC steps in

Northern Industrial Corresdondent

Victor Feather, T.U .C. acting general secretary first spoke to leaders of four unions in a demarcation dispute at the Pressed Steel Fisher car bodv factorv at Cowley. Eighty-nine plumbers and their mates have been on strike since last week, the second stoppage in a fortnight, because of a dispute over which group of workers should maintain air valves on welding equipment.

Over the weekend their union, the National Union of Sheet Metal Workers. Coppersmiths. Heating and Domestic Engineers, made the stoppage official. A shortage of car bodies had caused neariv 7.000 car workers in Austin, Morris. MG. Rover and Rootes plants to be laid off and the disruption of car production threatened to escalate to involve possibly half the car industry in Britain. As a result of Mr Feather’s intervention the pipefitters on the night shift went back to work last night and a three man T.U.C. disputes committee will thrash out the demarcation problem and give its ruling on Thursday.

If the unions involved accept the decision the T.U.C. may have gained some ground in its attempts to convince the Prime Minister and Mrs. Castle that its own machinery is tough enough to deal with this sort of problem.

The British Leyland strike remained deadlocked yesterday. Nearly 20,000 workers were idle in Britain’s motor industry yesterday, the day on which the T.U.C. stepped in. with some initial success, to try to prove to the Gov- ernment in a test case that its voluntary policy for controlling strikes will work. The number of workers either on strike or laid off reached its new peak when Jaguar announced that over the next 36 hours 2500 workers would be sent home from its two car plants at Brown’s Lane and Radford, Coventry.

The lay-off results from the shut-down of five British Lesland factories in Lancashire because of a strike over pay by 8,500 workers which entered its fourth week yesterday. One of these factories supplies vital cylinder block castings for the Jaguar car factories which employ a total of 6,400 workers. A Jaguar spokesman said the men being laid off would be told not to report again until further notice. Work in some sections of the two factories would continue and these included those units involved in the finishing of cars before delivery to customers.

Keith Adams

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