An industrial tribunal yesterday criticized management at British Leyland’s Rover works in Solihull for allowing men to sleep on the night shift, but the tribunal upheld the dismissal of two sleeping workers.
Mr Richard Smith, chairman of the Birmingham tribunal. said: “We are amazed, if not flabbergasted, that management should have allowed this position to arise and continue as it has done for some time”.
Mr Alan Haines, a former paint shop operative, told the tribunal that for the past nine years men had slept in all sections of the factory during the early hours. “Even securitv guards would sleep in the gate house”, he said. The tribunal was told that the security guards should have reported irregularities such as sleeping and some had since been disciplined for failing to do so. Mr Haines, of Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, and Mr Raymond Pennell, of Chelmsley Wood. West Midlands, both claimed that BL was unfair to dismiss them for something condoned for years.
“These men genuinely believe that because management, certainly at a lower level, had been condoning it for a number of years they were doing nothing wrong”, the chairman said.
“Unfortunately this gained them sympathy, but it does not turn their dismissals into an unfairness. These poor fellows were completely on the bottom rung and they suffered most. All they had were their jobs and these they have lost. The real reason why they indulged in this type of behaviour may have been because management was too weak and allowed them to do it.”
The two men were among 13 dismissed last November after a Sunday newspaper published photographs of men sleeping in the paint shop on a night shift.