Car union leaders yesterday rejected a plan put forward by the British Leyland Motor Corporation for the creation of a new industrial relations council intended to ease the strike problem at the company’s 70 plants. But the unions did not close the door completely on changes to improve labour relations in the British Leyland group, which estimates that it lost about £10 millions because of strikes in a recent six-month period.
They agreed with the management that there should be more joint meetings between senior company spokesmen and union officials. including shop stewards. And they said after a meeting in London that they were in favour of joint investigations of particular strike prone factories in the group.
The rejection by the unions of a formal industrial relations council for the group is bound to be a serious disappointment for British Leyland’s newly appointed director of labour relations, Mr P. J. Lowry, who put forward the idea at talks with union leaders last week. He had hoped the council would lead to improved communications and to a more standardised system of dealing with disputes.
After yesterday’s meeting between union leaders, however, Mr Jack Jones, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union , said that although they were anxious to cooperate in every possible way to improve labour relations, they did not think the proposal would solve present difficulties.
The proposed council would suffer from being unrepresentative, said Mr Jones, adding: “In any ease, the problem of dealing generally with issues at 70 different factories is pretty insurmountable.”