The longest strike in the history of Jaguar cars ended yesterday after 10 weeks and four days. It cost the company some £21m worth of cars and ruined the launch of its, new saloon, the XJI2.
Each of the 2000 strikers is estimated to have lost between £300 and £400 in wages. A mass meeting of strikers voted by 723 to 579 to accept the company’s latest offer and to resume work today. They will receive an interim flat rate of £44 for a 40- hour week an average increase of £3 a head. In addition there will be a lump sum payment varying from £105 to £20 a head depending on existing piecework rates and lay-off pay calculated at 80 per cent of the flat rate, except when a stoppage is caused by industrial action within Jaguar’s own factories.
The offer is conditional on the strikers accepting discussions on the introduction of a new flat rate system to replace piecework and the maintenance of existing levels of output. The terms are those which the strike committee rejected at a meeting with management two weeks’ ago and refused to put to a mass meeting. Strict security measures were enforced by shop stewards stationed at all entrances to the company sports ground where the meeting was held.
Arrivals were identified by the shop steward in their section before being admitted. Press, television and radio re-presentatives were held some 200 yards from the nearest point of the meeting by a line of shop stewards. The meeting was addressed by Mr Fred Palmer, Coventry district organizer of the Transport and General Workers’ Union (automotive group), and Mr Mick Richards, chairman of the strike committee. No recommendation was put to tho meeting. Strikers were told that the only reason for calling them together was to give them an opportunity of voting on the company’s offer.
A show of hands seemed to indicate a majority in favour but to prevent any misunderstanding the two sides were separated and counted individually as they filed past shop stewards. There were angry scenes when the vote was announced and repeated shouts of “sell out”.