By R. W. SHAKESPEARE
The five-week-old strike by 8500 workers which has closed five British Leyland factories in Lancashire is almost certain to be called off tomorrow with a full return to work on Monday.
After eight hours of top-level negotiations today leaders of the strike committee accepted a formula worked out by union and management representatives to settle the dispute over a claim for increased piecework rates and then voted unanimously to recommend, at tomorrow’s meeting of the strikers in Leyland that there should be a return to work.
A senior management team from British Leyland, which included Ron Ellis managing director of the company’s bus and truck division, which has been hit by the strike, Frank Saundry, company secretary, Leslie Southworth, general manager, and Barrie Mack::, labour relations officer of the company’s Austin-Morris division, were accompanied by Pat Lowry, director of the Engineering Employers’ Federation.
The union team was led by Arthur Hearsey, executive council nember of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers for the north- west area, and included Len Brindle, senior convener at the Lancashire factories, Vincent Murphy, vice-chairman of the works committee. Bob Crook, A.E.F. district secretary and Harry Banks, A.E.F. divisional organizer. A delegation of 10 members of the works committee, including two women shop stewards, also travelled to York and were consulted at frequent intervals.
It was they who made the final decision to recommend a return to work. Full details of the settlement are not being revealed until they I have been given to tomorrow’s meeting. The terms agreed are believed to have come within a few shillings of the original claim for improved piecework bonuses that would give a guaranteed wage to skilled men of £23 13s. 8d. for a 40-hour week, plus a new higher guaranteed starting rate for new employees and improved bonuses for women workers.
Mr. Lowry said the agreement was the basis for a resumption of work. The formula would be submitted to the meeting together with a recommendation both frml the executive council of the A.E.F. and the negotiating committee from Leyland that it should be accepted.