By R. W. Shakespeare Northern Industrial Correspondent
Hopes are higher today of a possible settlement in the six month long wrangle over a new pay deal for 8,500 workers at British Leyland’s five bus and truck factories in Lancashire.
The negotiations, in which British Leyland set out to implement new-style pay structures and eliminate much of the dependence on the traditional piecework system, have been accompanied by intermittent strikes, overtime bans and other disruptive action on the shop floor. A week ago, however, a mass meeting of workers rejected a shop stewards’ recommendation for an all out strike and yesterday there was a further meeting of the joint negotiating committee.
After this union representatives agreed to put some modified proposals to a series of plant meetings. This has raised hopes, at least in management minds. It is clear that, as far as the bus and truck factories are concerned, British Leyland has for the time being, had to abandon any hope of making further progress with its wage reforms while the Government’s Phase Two wages policy is in force. Instead, it is making an across the-board offer of £1 plus 4 per cent or £2.40 a week for each worker, while making it clear to the unions that this will mean that, for a year, piecework earnings will have to be frozen at present levels.