Archive : Order to shop steward may spark more Cowley trouble

From R. W. Shakespeare

More trouble could be on the way at the strike hit British Leyland car plant at Cowley, Oxford, when it reopens on Tuesday morning following the Easter holidays. It seems certain to arise from a management decision to refuse to continue to recognize the chairman of the Cowley joint shop stewards’ committee, Mr Alan Thornett, and an instruction to him to return to his normal job as a transport driver.

When the plant closed for the holidays on Thursday night, all car assembly operations were at a standstill and 10,500 workers were laid off, because of a strike by 150 transport drivers over layoff pay arrangements. This stoppage began immediately after a two week shutdown of the Marina assembly lines, which was in protest over new working arrangements aimed at increasing productivity.

In a statement the Cowley management accuses Mr Thornett of “blatantly demonstrating his unwillingness to use his best endeavours to keep men at work while disputes are discussed” and of not complying with the company’s agreed disputes procedures.

Keith Adams
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