Archive : BL companies to get a bigger labour role

By Peter Hildrew, northern labour correspondent

BL Cars executive confirmed yesterday that Mr Bill McLean, its director of employee relations would be leaving the company. Mr McLean has carried the main burden of negotiations over the British Leyland pay parity scheme for the past 16 months after the departure of personnel director Mr Geoffrey Whalen.

Mr McLean apparently signalled his wish to move last year, when the British Leyland chairman, Mr Michael Edwardes, split the car operations into subsidiary companies, but the break has been delayed by the long wrangle over parity pay. More responsibility for industrial relations will now be devolved to Austin-Morris, Jaguar Rover Triumph, and BL Components. A British Leyland spokesman stressed yesterday that centralised bargaining will continue, with the joint negotiating committee handling major issues such as parity, the annual wage rise, and the principles of the proposed incentive scheme.

But details will be handled at a lower level. The centralised structure has already been loosened by the decision to implement the parity programme on a plant basis as each factory reaches its productivity target, rather than on a single date for all 95,000 hourly paid workers. Parity is still posing prohlems. Some 6,000 white collar workers belonging to the technical and supervisory section of the engineering union are threatening a one-day strike next Monday and further sanctions over a demand for faster implementation of a new grading structure to bring their pay closer to that of other companies.

Austin Morris yesterday denied a report that it was planning to cut production of the Princess model from 1200 to 800 per week and eliminate a night shift.

Keith Adams

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