Representatives of 2,000 men, on strike for seven weeks at the Jaguar factory in Coventry, have asked to meet the company today. This surprise move followed a meeting of the strike committee yesterday.
Afterwards, Mr Mick Richards, strike committee spokesman, said he did not hold out any hopes of a settlement but he added: “If we get some cooperation from the company there is a possibility that the strikers might find they are in a position to make a compromise also.”
Weekly collections are to be taken in British Leyland plants throughout the country to raise funds for the Jaguar men. This decision to provide financial support for as long as the strike continues was reached at a meeting in Birmingham yesterday of the unofficial British Leyland combined shop stewards committee which claims to represent the bulk of the corporation’s 180,000 employees in Britain.
The response from the shop floor is, however, expected to vary considerably. In factories still operating the traditional piecework system the Jaguar strikers are regarded as a test case for similar clashes as BLMC continue their policy of switching from piecework to a flat-day rate. Most support will come from Austin-Morris, Longbridge, and Triumph, Coventry, where moves to introduce the new system have already led to strikes.
Jaguar have refused to make any offer unless it is related to the complete restructuring of the wages system. Mr Eddie McGarry, joint chairman of the combined shop stewards committee, said after yesterday’s meeting:
“The Jaguar strikers have our full sympathy and support. They are getting about £41 a week and are asking for another £5 a week. That is not inconsistent with what is being paid elsewhere.”
A further 3,000 Jaguar workers are laid off and production losses now exceed £11m. Shop stewards at Longbridge believe that during the next few weeks they will be faced with a “take it or leave it!’ ultimatum similar to that which preceded the introduction of a flat-rate system at Cowley.