By David Felton and Clifford Webb
On the eve of meetings of manual workers at BL plants to vote on the company’s 6.8 per cent wage offer, leaders of 22,500 white collar workers called off an overtime ban, which threatened to disrupt production of the Mini Metro. This was agreed after the company extended its deadline for introducing a programme of compulsory redundancies.
Sir Michael Edwardes, chairman of BL, yesterday appealed to the 73,000 blue collar car workers to reject their shop steward’s call for strike action over the 6.8 per cent offer. He said a strike vote would throw away their jobs and the future of BL. He admitted that the company’s offer was modest, but insisted: “We cannot pay a penny more and we won’t pay a penny more.”
In a leaflet distributed to BL workers yesterday, Sir Michael outlined the company’s achievements and its plans for improvements in the bonus scheme. He urged staff to think carefully before they threw away the gains which the company had made . In talks earlier this week BL agreed to extend the redundancies deadline from November 21 to January 5 next year after unions agreed to cooperate in a plan to achieve more than 3,000 job cuts by March next year.
The unions have now said they believe sufficient cuts could be made by next January through natural wastage and early retirement and so avoid compulsory redundancies.