About 3,000 of the 6500 Jaguar workers originally joined the strike by 18,500 BL employees protesting at the imposition of the company’s controversial pay and working conditions package.
That strike collapsed two days ago after the transport union decided to withdraw its official backing. The Jaguar men did not return to work because of the local dispute over the down-grading of assembly workers who traditionally had been paid on a par with skilled men. The management’s offer last night comes after a day of confused meetings at Jaguar, starting with a mass meeting in the morning. Shop stewards refused to take a vote and the men drifted away to hold sectional meetings. By late afternoon it appeared that about 1,600 employees, almost all of them from the assembly plant at Browns Lane, Coventry, had decided to stay out.
Mr Michael Beasley, Jaguar’s manufacturing director, said last night: “I cannot believe that those who voted to stay out really want to see Jaguar fail. In the interests of everyone at Jaguar I urge them to report for work tomorrow. Those who decided to stay on strike should know they are putting all jobs at Jaguar at risk, not just their own. I recognize that the sense of grievance over grade slotting, is held genuinely. ”
BL Cars management has offered that the final-stage grade appeals panel, which it is anxious to establish as soon as possible by agreement with the trade unions, may be chaired by an independent person.
“I believe that this panel could be set up quickly and as a matter of priority examine the grading grievances at Jaguar and come up with authoritative conclusions”, Mr Beasley said. On that basis he was recalling immediately 1,800 workers laid off appealing to the remainder to report in the morning.
Mr Ray Horrocks, BL managing director, last night threatened to dismiss 1,600 men still on strike at Jaguar if they are not back at work by next Monday (the Press Association reports). He said that union officials will be given a last chance to persuade the men at the two Coventry plants to end the strike.
“The company very much hopes that those few remaining on strike will follow the responsible lead set by the unions. However, if those employees on strike have not returned to work by Monday, April 28, the. company will have exhausted every avenue and will have no option but to regard then as being dismissed “.