By Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent
Jaguar last night described workers’ rejection of its latest pay offer as “quite disastrous “.
A spokesman said the news that the eight week-long strike was to continue would benefit only its biggest competitor, Mercedes. Customers who had already waited months for their new Jaguar in the hope that yesterday’s mass meeting would vote for a resumption of work would probably now settle for their second choice.
Sales losses already valued at £14m increase at the rate of £500,000 a day. The biggest blow is the failure of Jaguar to supply the new XJ12. Its launching coincided with the start of the strike. Some 500 XJ12s were completed or on the assembly lines when work stopped, and should have been leaving the Browns Lane, Coventry, plant at a 100 a week. Despite these losses, Mr F. R. W. England, Jaguar chairman, is not prepared to give way on the continuance of piecework.
He said last night: “We are very disappointed at the outcome. Our offer is fair, and promises improved security of earnings to the strikers when they decide to return to work, which is what we believe the vast majority really want. At the same time it must be made clear that despite the disastrous effects of this strike we maintain our determination not to give way to the piecework demands to which we are continually being subjected. Nevertheless, despite the latest impasse, if the strikers ask us to talk to them again we shall be pleased to do so.”
Mr Fred Palmer, Transport and General Workers’ Union area organizer, told a mass meeting of 2,000 strikers that the company’s offer of £44 a week was subject to a number of clauses and loopholes. These would prevent them earning the new maximum for at least four months. To Mr Palmer, the vote , only six favoured acceptance , represented ” a beautiful picture.”
He told the strikers : “It’ s very pleasant from the platform to see such solidarity.”
Mr Mick Richards, chairman of the strike committee, said management was treating the dispute as a test of workers’ solidarity. If they remained firm in their resolve it would bring management back to the negotiating table with a much better offer. The meeting voted almost unanimously to reject the offer, which was conditional on acceptance of a new flat rate system of payment.
Fred Palmer – “We are worried about the loss to the company and the effect on the economy of the country. But we are more worried about the effect on the lads themselves.”