Senior shop stewards claiming to represent 190,000 British Leyland employees yesterday criticized Lord Stokes, the group chairman. for implying that his workers were responsible for the group’s poor performance. Two hundred and sixty convenors from Leyland plants all over Britain were called to an emergency conference of the unofficial combined shop stewards organization in Birmingham.
They passed a unanimous resolution deploring Lord Stokes’s “attack” and insisted that the production decline stemmed from Government moves. Referring to proposed plans introducing radical changes in pay structures at Austin/Morris car plants. Dick Etheridge, chairman of the combine. said the conference had decided to resist any attempts to separate take home pay from output or to terminate plant bargaining. But he insisted this did not mean an all out defence of the traditional Midland piece work system.
“We are prepared to consider anything. We have already co-operated in the introduction of a completely new system at Cofton Hackett, the new engine factory at Longbridge, which is probably the best system of pay and working in the country”. he insisted.
At the British Leyland service depot at Cowley, Oxford, yesterday, 600 office workers rejected a plea to return to work made by an official of the Clerical and Administrative Workers Union. The strikers walked out Tuesday in support of 60 women clerks who were suspended for refusing to work with non-union members.