FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
COVENTRY, MARCH 14
Mulliners Ltd., the Birmingham car body building firm in the Standard- Triumph International group, dismissed today the entire production force of 150 workers at their Coventry plant. The men said they received an hour’s notice and a week’s pay.
Mulliners Ltd had no statement on the dismissals but the parent body said that a contract between Mulliners and themselves for the partial supply of Vanguard bodies had been terminated. The termination would not affect the current or future production of Vanguard cars. This afternoon trade union officials met representatives of Mulliners at the offices of Coventry Engineering Employers’ Association and were told, it is understood, that the firm’s decision was irrevocable. A request that the dismissed men be reinstated was refused, and a union official said afterwards that it was not yet known whether the Coventry plant was to close.
Maintenance and stores men were continuing working. Tomorrow the dismissed men will have separate meetings with their union officials to hear of any developments.
Mr C. Gallagher, Coventry area organizer of the National Union of Vehicle Builders, which has 74 men among those dismissed, said: “The dismissals came like a bolt out of the blue. This is a wildcat lockout. There had been no hint of sackings at all.”
Union officials understand that the termination of the contract meant the immediate stopping of work. The plant, it seems, has not been operating economically since it was taken over last year from the Birmingham firm of Fisher and Ludlow Ltd. At that time it was intended to build up a labour force of 1,000, but since then there have been long and uneasy negotiations over pay rates, which, it is thought, have delayed efforts to get the factory fully operational. Mr George Evans, Birmingham district organizer of the N.U.V.B., said last night that the situation at Coventry could have repercussions in Birmingham.
“The whole thing is fantastic,”he said.
“They were in process of building a new paint shop at the Coventry factory and suddenly, at the drop of a hat, they closed the factory down.”
A Standard-Triumph spokesman said last night: “A contract between Mulliners and us for the supply of Vanguard car bodies has been ended. The future of the Mulliners’ plant has yet to be considered.”
A senior official of the National Union of Vehicle Builders said last night: “You would not think it possible in this day and age. Even one of the men who started work this morning found himself sacked an hour later. We shall fight this injustice.”