Archive : “3000 Out In Car Strike”

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Union leaders claimed to have crippled production at the Morris Motors factory at Cowley today on the first day of the official strike called by the Transport and General Workers’ Union.

Mr J. Thomas, Oxford district secretary of the union, said that all but a handful of their 3,000 members had responded to the strike call, but the management put the figure lower. An official said that 2,432 people had failed to clock in. He added that factories making components for the firm had been affected by the strike.

At the Pressed Steel Company’s car body factory at Cowley 300 were sent home, and at the M.G. and Riley factory at Abingdon 100 men were idle. Mr W. H. Bicknell, general manager of the Swindon Pressed Steel company’s works, said that the strike was seriously affecting operations.

The aim of the strike is to secure the reinstatement of the chief shop steward, Mr F. Horsman, who was dismissed last Wednesday after being accused of instructing men to stop work. There were no picket incidents. but all Oxford City police leave has been cancelled for the time being.

Most of the strikers waited all day for a decision by the Amalgamated Engineering Union shop stewards on whether they would recommend their members to support the stoppage. Mr J. Longworth, divisional organizer of the A.E.U., addressed meetings of shop stewards and union officials, but no final decision was reached. Earlier Mr Thomas had told a meeting of strikers: “It is quite likely within the next couple of days that this dispute will not be confined to the Oxford district.”

He said that all materials going in and out of the factory had been declared black and that the decision would be made known to all transport drivers throughout the country. The number of vehicles arriving at the factory today was just a fraction of the normal traffic. It seemed clear that drivers in the Midlands had already taken sympathetic action.

A statement issued by the management said that at weekend talks between officials of the Transport and General Workers’ Union the employers’ federation, and the company an appeal was made for the trade union representatives to instruct their men to return to work and make use of the normal negotiating machinery. In order to speed up the procedure the federation had offered to waive a works conference and arrange a local conference within 24 hours. but these proposals were not acceptable to the trade union officials. Mr Thomas issued a statement in which he said that the company had ignored the recognized negotiating machinery in the events which led up to the dismissal of Mr Horsman.

2,000 Laid Off By B.M.C.

Over 2,000 workers at British Motor Corporation factories at Birmingham and Coventry were laid off today because of the strike of Transport and General Workers’ Union members at the Morris factory at Oxford. The worst hit was Nuffield Metal Products at Birmingham, where bodies are made for the Oxford assembly lines. A special meeting of the joint B.M.C. shop stewards’ committee, which is not officially recognized by the unions, was held in Birmingham tonight and after the meeting a call was issued to all shop stewards in the group’s factories in Birmingham, Coventry and Oxford to hold mass meetings to consider giving moral, financial and other support to the Oxford strikers.

A separate dispute tonight threatened production at the B.M.C.’s Austin factory at Longbridge. Two hundred workers in the paint shop walked out as a protest against a proposal by the management to increase the labour force in their department in order to increase production.

Keith Adams

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