A negotiated pay rise of £2 a week for 5,000 clerks employed in British Leyland factories in the Midlands and Oxford ran into trouble yesterday-within 24 hours of its acceptance by union officials. A mass meeting of clerks at the big Cowley, Oxford. assembly plant voted overwhelmingly against accepting the increase. They are sticking out for £3 a week. A similar meeting will be held at the group’s largest plant at Longbridge on Monday afternoon and at other plants during the next few days.
‘Workers court’ denied
British Leyland said last night that they were ” very disappointed and upset” at reports that an unofficial workers’ court was held in the Morris Motors factory at Cowley, near Oxford. But a trade union district official denied that there had been such a court and said it was a ” distortion ” to apply this description to a meeting between shop stewards and workers. A number of men were reported on Thursday to have appeared before two senior shop stewards from the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers and the Transport and General Workers’ Union, and to have been asked to make payments to charity for refusing to take part in an unofficial strike.
British Leyland said: “An unofficial court took place. We are very disappointed that our workers have taken unofficial action like this, because we wish to encourage that disputes of this sort are channelled through official procedure. Any fines should be made by the unions, and certainly not through unofficial channels.”
The company added that a room in the factory was made available to the workers by the labour relations officer, but denied earlier reports that this officer was present at the meeting.
Mr. Malcolm Young, Oxford district secretary of the A.E.F. said: “I deny there is such a thing as a workers’ court. I expect what has happened is that senior shop stewards, this is common within industry, had met certain men to explain what was going on in the factory as far as their colleagues were concerned.”
Mr. Young clairned that to desribe such a meeting as a workers’ court was a ” distortion and dramatization of industrial life “.
2 PROBES INTO UNION COURTS
By EDWARD LAXTON
Two investigations were ordered yesterday into the ” courts ” held by shop stewards at which car workers were fined for not supporting an unofficial strike
INQUIRY No. 1 will be held by a district committee of the Transport and General Workers’ Union . The committee has the power to fine or censure their union’s shop stewards who demanded £2 fines from workers at British Leyland’s Morris Motors plant at
INQUIRY No. 2 will be held by the British Leyland management, who said yesterday: ” This whole business is a matter for investigation.”
They want to know why the two unofficial “courts'” were held in their offices at Cowley—one in a foreman’s office and the other in a conference room. Mr Malcolm Young , the Oxford district secretary of one of the unions involved, the Amalgamated Engineering and Foundry Workers, denied yesterday that any “court” had taken place.
He said that to describe a meeting between senior shop stewards and workers as a workers’ court was a ” distortion and dramatisation of industrial life.”