The dispute that halted production at British Leylant’s Longbridge plant at Birmingham and led to 7,000 men being laid off was resolved yesterday. The strikers agreed to take their grievances over new working conditions to arbitration.
But at the two Jaguar plants in Coventry, about 1,600 workers remained on strike in defiance of a dismissal threat. The men have been told by BL Cars managing director Mr Ray Horrocks that they will be sacked unless they return to work by Monday.
The Longbridge dispute began when 48 welders and finishers walked out after being told that under the company’s imposed pay and working practices package, payments for the time taken to put on and take off protective clothing would be stopped. Yesterday, however, they agreed to a request from factory convener, Mr Jack Adams, to take the issue to a review panel composed of representatives of both management and unions. Mini , Allegro and engine production, which has been at a standstill, should be back to normal by Monday. But Mr Adams warned last night that if the company continued to press ahead with the imposition of new working practices, it could expect further disputes.
“The men are in a determined mood,” he said. “If BL carries on trying to change practices without proper consultation with the unions, then it can expect similar action to that we have seen this week at Longbridge.”
The strikers at the Coventry Jaguar plants, will tomorrow receive through the post a copy of the management’s offer to set up an independently chaired appeal panel to investigate their claims that they have been downgraded under the new pay structure.