By R. W. Shakespeare
An eight-week old strike which has made 18.000 British Leyland workers idle and cost more than £25m worth of lost output is to end on Monday. A meeting yesterday of the 800 workers who have been on strike from one of the company’s key component plants at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, voted to call off their unofficial stoppage over pay.
They have accepted a formula which will mean that the company can start immediate negotiations with union representatives on a new wages agreement, which will come into operation on November 1 when the present deal ends. When the strike began on June 13, the Hemel Hempstead workers were demanding an interim pay increase of £10 a week. This was necessary, they claimed, because their earnings had fallen behind those of other workers in the industry. This original demand has, however, been overtaken by the new government/TUC wages policy.
During the past two weeks the strikers have shifted their ground to insist on a firm undertaking that they would get the maximum £6 a week allowed by the policy when their next agreement took effect. The company has refused to give such an undertaking in advance of formal negotiations with the union, and yesterday’s vote by the strikers seems to indicate that they have now accepted that they are in no position to win any concession before the next negotiated settlement.
The strike has been extremely costly for British Leyland. All Jaguar, Triumph, Austin 18/22 and MG Midget production has been stopped.