Archive : B.M.C. Warn 102 Defiant Men

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The unofficial strike of 102 British Motor Corporation workers at Ward End, Birmingham, that the firm declares will stop production of the new Austin and Morris small cars within two days, continues in open defiance of union leadership. The strikers today overwhelmingly rejected appeals by union officials to return to work so that negotiations could open.

The immediate reaction from B.M.C. was to declare that, embarrassing though a dislocation of production would be at this moment, when already there is a big waiting list for the cars, they prefer to face that rather than submit to negotiation under duress.

“The company regard this strike as blackmail.” said a B.M.C. spokesman, referring to the strikers’ decision.

“Even if thousands of the new cars are lost to production we will not discuss the dispute until work has been resumed in accordance with the agreements between the trade unions and employers.”

The B.M.C official said that production of the Austin Seven at Longbridge will stop at lunchtime tomorrow and 2,000 workers will be laid off. At the same time 500 men at the Fisher and Ludlow body factory will become idle. At Morris Motors, Cowley, output of the Morris Mini-Minor will stop on Wednesday and 500 men engaged on final assembly there will be laid off. The strikers are employed on differential and suspension production at the tractor and transmission branch.

They want the interim day rates increased by 6d. and later by 1s. an hour until piecework rates for the new models have been agreed. The Amalgamated Engineering Union, to which most of the strikers belong, have given their members a clear directive to return to work, and today Mr F. Crowder. an official of the union, said to the men:

“I cannot put it too forcibly to you that the management have indicated all along that discussions will take place within 24 hours of a resumption of work.”

Mr H. Smith, an official of the other union involved, the General Municipal Workers’, was almost shouted down when he said there was no hope of securing negotiations before the unofficial stoppage ended. They began the strike, he complained. without warning and had never asked their officials to arrange factory conferences to discuss their grievances. The A.E.U. national executive are expected to discuss the dispute at their meeting tomorrow. The strikers have decided to meet again on Wednesday and on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Keith Adams

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