LEYLAND JOBS DEAL NEAR
By Peter Hitchens
After a day of tough talks, Leyland unions were said last night to have given ” an amber light” to job cuts in a bid to save the ailing car giant. In a seven-hour meeting with chairman Sir Michael Edwardes, the workers leaders moved nearer a compromise in his demand for 25,000 redundancies and the closure of 13 factories.
Earlier- Industry Secretary Sir Keith Joseph told them he had a plea bv the union delegation to pour nearly £1 billion more into the company. Sir Keith told them he had “legitimate doubts” about handing over more Government cash to bail out Leyland. Chairman Sir Michael said after his marathon session with the union men :
“We have an amber light and we are going to go forward. It is not a green light, which would have been Utopia. It is not a red light, which would have been disaster.”
Sir Michael had warned the unions that his proposed modernisation programme would not go ahead unless they accepted a jobs cutback. But yesterday Leyland labour relations chief Pat Lowry promised a softly-softly approach to redundancies. He said they would be voluntary where possible , and that there would be no compulsory redundancies without long-drawn-out consultation.
Details of the possible compromise will be discussed by Leyland shop stewards. But a joint statement by management and unions made it clear there is still some way to go before agreement. It said : “Certain aspects of the company’s plan cause the unions and workforce grave concern, in particular the proposed redundancies and plant closures.”
The unions also pressed for Government cash backing for the programme.