By Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent
The 2300 British Leyland employees at Cowley, near Oxford, yesterday rejected their shop stewards’ advice and voted overwhelmingly to accept a new offer of 28 days’ guaranteed lay-off pay a year. The successful formula was arrived at after top-level management representatives made a dramatic dash by air to Brussels to see Mr Moss Evans, national liason secretary of the Transport and General Workers automotive group, who was attending an international conference.
The decision to travel to Brussels to see the union official, being increasingly regarded in the industry as “Mr Motors “. followed a major confrontation at Cowley. On March 9, the 2300 men employed on the Maxi and Marina body lines imposed work sanctions for better pay and conditions than those accepted by other workers. A month later, the management suspended them, and for a fortnight production was halted, with 8,000 men idle.
However, after further talks the men rejected offers of 14 and then 20 days’ lay-off pay. and at yesterday’s mass meeting shop stewards urged fresh negotiations. The meeting was undoubtedly swayed by a personal recommendation from Mr Evans to accept the 28 days offer. Production returned to normal yesterday at two other strike-torn factories in the group, Austin-Morris, Longbridge, and at Adderley Park East, Birmingham.
Triumph shop stewards have notified the management that 97 per cent of workers at Coventry plants have rejected a proposed pay and conditions scheme abolishing piecework. I understand the company is unhappy with the way the voting was carried out.