Even before the British Leyland Motor Corporation has officially come into being representatives of the 180,000 workers have formed their joint organization, which has promised an early show of teeth. In Birmingham yesterday, 250 shop stewards’ conveners, representing the 80 factories run by British Motor Holdings and the Leyland group set up the British Leyland Motor Corporation Combined Trade Union Committee.
Joint chairmen were elected: Communist Mr. R. A. Etheridge. convener of shop stewards at BMC.’s Austin factory. Longbridge, and Mr E McGarry from Leyland’s Standard Triumph International at Coventry.
The new body will meet once every six months, but domestic problems will still be left to the existing organizations in the separate factories or groups of factories. One of its first moves was to call for an early meeting with BLMC’s chief executive, Sir Donald Stokes, to discuss future plans. Sir Donald is already due to meet shop stewards from the BMC. section next Thursday.
Mr. Etheridge said after today’s meeting: ‘We do not want any change in the arrangement for the meeting with the BMC. shop stewards. But we want Sir Donald to meet the executive committee of the new body to discuss his intentions with regard to reorganization and rationalization, which, already seems to have started.’
There were no full time trade union officials at today’s meeting. Mr Etheridge said this arose because the meeting clashed with the annual meeting of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions in London.
‘It has been said’, he added, ‘that this body will be opposed to the official line; That is not true. We want to work with the full-time officials and we have had letters of good wishes from a number of them.’
The meeting unanimously passed a resolution pledging an early show of the organization’s strength and insisted on some form of action ‘that will have more than a salutary effect on the employers ‘.
At the afternoon session the meeting unanimously passed a resolution calling for full consultation on any plans for the movement of work from one factory to another. Mr Etheridge said: ‘Unless there is consultation and mutual agreement, then there will be no movement of work. If a factory refuses to have work moved away the question will be referred to the official trade union movement upon whom we shall call to put the matter in dispute. We realize that there must be considerable change. We do not oppose change for the sake of opposing it, but we shall fight redundancies. It seems everybody is scared of Sir Donald Stokes, including the management We are not.’