FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT
BIRMINGHAM, SEPT. 4
A new threat to the production of the British Motor Corporation’s baby cars arose today, but was disposed of, at least for the time being, at a meeting tonight.
The 102 machinists at the Morris Motors tractor and transmission branch at Ward End who returned to work yesterday after their week-long unofficial strike over pay rates accused the management of breaking a promise to discuss their grievance as soon as work was resumed.
At a meeting outside the factory during the lunch hour the men decided to ban all overtime on work for the small cars as a gesture of protest. In response to the company’s appeal for maximum output they have been working up to 12 hours overtime a week, including Saturdays and Sundays. The men involved met again for two hours in private tonight. In a brief statement afterwards, Mr J. Morrison, chairman of shop stewards, said that the overtime ban would operate only tomorrow and on Sunday and that normal working would be resumed on Monday. The men reached this decision on the the advice of their shop stewards who, it is believed, are anxious that union officials should not be embarrassed by any unofficial action when they meet the management next week for formal talks under the recognized negotiating procedure.
REPORT TO UNION
Mr L. Kingscott. shop stewards’ convener, said earlier today that when the men’s representatives met the management for discussions yesterday they were told that 90 per cent of those engaged on production for the cars would be offered piecework rates within two weeks and that the company were not prepared to discuss their claim for an increase in the interim hourly rates of pay.
“We came out completely disgusted,” said Mr Kingscott, who added that this new complication in the dispute had been reported to the district secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and by him to the union’s head office. The men take the view that having obeyed their union leaders’ instructions to end their unofficial strike they are still no nearer a settlement of their grievance. Mr Kingscott said that the men would like an inquiry “into the way the management conduct their affairs in relation to the men on the shop floor.”
The tractor and transmission works, he declared, was once the happiest factory in Birmingham and had not had a dispute for 30 years. That, he said, was because the management were then always prepared to listen to the men and give them fair treatment. The present management were not prepared to discuss things but only to say ” No.”
A management official at Ward End denied that the company had broken faith with the men. “Never at any time have we given an undertaking to increase the rate paid to these men pending the introduction of piece-work prices,” he said.
Already half the men had been offered piece-work rates and offers would be made to the remainder within two weeks. In fact, the men have never claimed that the management did promise to increase their present rates. They complain that a promise to negotiate on the claim has not been honoured by the company. The management were not prepared to comment on this point today.