By RONALD KERSHAW
Hopes of an end to the series of disputes that have caused chaos in the Midlands motor industry were held out last night by unions and managements.
In the latest dispute the walk-out by 4,100 workers at Rover’s main assembly plant in Solihull, Warwickshire, over the disputed membership of a woman worker, union officials said a basis for settlement had been reached. They ordered a return to work today.
At the Pressed Steel Fisher works at Castle Bromwich, 500 foremen on strike over alleged “blacklegging” during a 24-hour token strike decided to return to work yesterday after their union, the Association of Scientific and Technical and Management Staffs, accepted a peace formula. At Pressed Steel’s Llanelli works, 700 employees on strike over the suspension of a tool maker were back at work yesterday to allow new productivity agreements to be discussed. The negotiations which began on Monday were adjourned yesterday until August 29.
This return has eased the pressure on British Motor Corporation plants at Longbridge, Birmingham and Oxford where nearly 6,000 men were laid off yesterday because supplies of bodies from Pressed Steel had dried up. A B.M.C. spokesman said it is hoped the laid-off men will be working normally today.
At the Leyland, Lancashire, factory of British Leyland, more than 400 vehicle inspectors resumed normal working yesterday. They had banned overtime in support of a pay claim. Talks will be held later this week.
A meeting will be held today of 40 strikers at the Massey-Ferguson tractor factory at Coventry. Their stoppage last Friday-over complaints of working arrangements caused 1,000 other workers to be laid off. The men, material handlers, are anxious to switch to a piecework system.
Strikes slowing BMC exports
Lausanne. Aug. 20.-The British Motor Corporation sold about 15 per cent more cars to Switzerland during the first half-year although total British vehicle exports dropped by 11 per cent, Filmer Paradise, managing director of B.M.C. Europe, said here today.
“Sales could be running 25 to 30 per cent higher than last year if we could get sufficient supplies to meet demand, particularly for our four-door 1300 model and our Mini 1000, which are proving very popular “, he added. It had been hoped to catch up with deliveries to Swiss distributors in June and July, but this proved impossible, he said, because of strikes.
Union War Over Mrs X
By William Daniels
A squabble between two unions over a woman worker yesterday brought a car factory to a standstill. About 4,500 men walked out of the Rover factory at Solihull , Warwickshlre because of the row over the middle-aged Mrs X’s union membership. Another 1500 men were made idle as the assembly line for cars and Land-Rovers came to a halt.
Mrs X—she wants to keep her name secret—went on two weeks paid leave last night as the unions and management tried to sort out the trouble. It all started when Mrs X was transferred for medical reasons from the press shop to do lighter work in the section handling car parts for export.
Workers in this section are members of the National Union of Vehicle Builders and they claim a ” closed shop ” there. They said that Mrs X, a member of the Transport and General Workers Union, would have to switch her membership to their union. Transport union officials disputed this. And the NUVB men countered by banning overtime, Some NUVB men defied the ban. Others refused to handle their work.
With cars rolling off the assembly lines with parts missing, the management said this could not go on. Then the 4500 NUVB men walked out. Their leaders will urge them to go back today.
Mrs. X said last night: “I had no wish to change to the NUVB and as far as I knew there was no need for me to change.”
Five hundred foremen at the Pressed Steel-Fisher factory in Birmingham will go back to work today. They have been on strike in protest against management officials ‘black-legging” during a one-day token strike last week. The stoppage has led to a shortage of car bodies at the Austin factory at Longbridge. Almost 6,000 production workers were out of work yesterday.