BMC Pay Joe To Do Nothing
By William Daniels
The only time car worker Joe O’Meara sees the factory where he ‘works’ is pay-day. For the giant British Motor Corporation is paying him wages to stay away from their Longbridge car plant in Birmingham.
In the past seven weeks his hardest job has been to find a parking space for his car when he drives to the factory to pick up his wages. But now 42 year old Joe, father of six, is tired of his full time redundancy and wants to get back to work.
His wages for doing nothing have been lopped from £15 a week to £7. Eleven of his work-mates are in the same position. At his home in Pool farm Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham, last night, Joe explained in his soft Irish brogue: ‘It’s the unions that have caused this. The management has had to tell us to keep away to stop a strike. ‘
The trouble started when the twelve men – all members of the National Society of Metal Mechanics – were transferred to the Longbridge factory from another plant. On the first day shop stewards said they were doing the work of members of the National Union of Vehicle Builders. So they joined the NUVB. For seven months they belonged to two trade unions. But no progress was made in the dispute.
‘We decided to bring things to a head,” said Joe, ‘so we resigned from the NUVB.” A BMC spokesman refused to say why the suspended men had had a cut in their ‘stay-away’ pay.