Craftsmen’s strike is not hampering work, BL claims
By John Ardill, Labour Staff
A claim that the unofficial strike by about 3,500 craftsmen at BL Cars was beginning to bite was denied by the company yesterday. A spokesman said that production was being maintained , at all the plants which had resumed work after the holiday, and that some strikers had returned to work. The amount of support for the strike called by the United Craft Organisation should become clearer today when the rest , of the company’s plants re-open. UCO delegates , meeting in Birmingham to review progress, are hoping for support from Liverpool and Longbridge plants, where craftsmen have been working normally. Mr Roy Fraser, leader of the organisation, said yesterday:
” We are hoping for support from 200 men in Liverpool and 1,500 at Longbridge. It would be an advantage if they came but but it is not absolutely essential. We have got the strength to win already .”
But Mr Derek Robinson, chairman of the BL Cars Shop Stewards Combine , claimed that the unofficial strike was already collapsing. “I cannot see it continuing beyond this week,” he said.
The organisation is seeking separate bargaining rights, opposed by the company and the unions, and an increase in basic pay to Â£90 a week. The company spokesman said that where production was scheduled yesterday it was being maintained without interruption, ” and we hope that will continue.”
Cars were being produced at the Austin-Morris plant at Oxford, where the majority of striking maintenance men had returned to work. The Cardiff gear-box and engine parts plant, where Mr Fraser claimed problems were developing, was still on holiday after working on Saturday and Sunday, he added. At Solihull, Rover production was continuing although staff and supervisors were taking a holiday which production workers had decided to defer.
” We are getting pretty good cooperation ,” the spokesman said.
Mr Fraser said: “The management are putting on a brave face and pretending everything in the garden is rosy. The strike has started to have an effect but it will really begin to bite next week.”