B.M.C. “Held To Ransom”
From Our Correspondent
BIRMINGHAM, MAY 23
The British Motor Corporation, facing,”strangulation” at two of its largest factories in Birmingham and Oxford, issued an official statement today complaining of “‘groups of individuals holding the corporation up to ransom “.
The statement did not refer directly to the 55 electricians who walked out last week, causing more than 12,000 men to be laid off at both plants. The electricians, who work at the tractor and transmissions plant in Birmingham, where all B.M.C. suspension units and rear axles are made, claim that because they are doing extra work they deserve more money. They have demanded an extra £30 a week to be shared between them but the management has offered £20.
The official statement said: “These men are already among the highest paid workers in this category in the corporation. They have been offered increases that we think are extremely fair. It is not just a question of £10. It is a question of an additional sum of money after a very fair offer has been made. Any single group of individuals in a big organization such as ours can hold the organization up to ransom for more money despite the effects on the corporation and fellow workers.”
There was no answer to the statement by the E.T.U., which is officially supporting the stoppage, but the area secretary, Mr Jack Bolas, said: “As far as we are concerned there is no change in the position. The initiative rests with the management, and unless they make a better offer there is no likelihood of calling off the strike.”
By tonight 12,500 men at the B.M.C. factories at Birmingham and Oxford had been laid off and the electricians’ strike was beginning to be felt in other allied car factories in the Midlands. A spokesman for B.M.C. said tonight that the night shift at the Cowley works had reported for duty and that when they finished tomorrow morning production would stop there as well.
At Fisher and Ludlow 2,573 men were made idle yesterday. At Morris Motors engines branch at Coventry 262 were laid off.
At Jaguar Cars, Coventry, the 850 assembly men who had to be sent home last Thursday because of a strike reported for work again yesterday. Discussions continued between representatives of the management and 400 trim shop workers.