Archive : Peace hopes rise at Leyland

Hopes of settlement of the labour troubles at five British Leyland factories in Lancashire rose yesterday when mass meetings of the 8500 workers at Leyland and Chorley voted to postpone a decision on a second strike.

The dispute, over a pay claim, led to a five-week strike which ended on Monday, and the men were threatening to walk out again because they are not satisfied with the way the management is carrying out settlement terms. Now, on union advice. they will stay at work, although continuing to ban overtime while new negotiations go on.

Leyland men drop strike threat, but overtime ban stays

In the face of a good deal of noisy opposition, local union officials managed yesterday to persuade mass meetings of 8,500 workers from five British Leyland factories in Lancashire not to stage another strike for the time being. The workers at four factories in Leyland and the fifth in Chorley, who went back to work on Monday after a five week stoppage over a pay claim, had threatened to walk out again yesterday afternoon.

They say that the management is refusing to implement a new system of piecework payments which they understood formed part of a “peace formula” that ended the strike. Yesterday’s meetings followed the collapse of the marathon union-management talks in York on Wednesday and Thursday, which ended in deadlock.

Early yesterday a meeting of the 130 shop stewards from the Lancashire factories received a message from the executive of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers urging them to persuade their members to stay at work while further negotiations took place. The stewards decided to recommend this course to the lunchtime mass meetings, one at Leyland and another at Chorley. The first big meeting at Leyland. attended by 7,000 men, was noisy and at times hostile. Groups of workers shouted accusations that works committee members had “sold us up the river”.

Len Brindle, the senior works convener, argued that the management was now convinced that the shop stewards were not prepared to accept the company’s interpretation of the new piece work system. and he believed that further strike action should be ” postponed ” while talks continued. The final vote at both meetings was against immediate strike action. but a ban on overtime working is to continue, which means that the company cannot yet make up any of the £5.5m. production lost by the strike.

The next stage in the still critical dispute will be a meeting in Preston on Sunday between Hugh Scanlon. president of the A.E.F.; Arthur Hearsey, the union’s executive member for the North-West; and a representative group of Leyland shop stewards. Pat Lowry, director of the Engineering Employers Federation, who has been guiding the management side of the negotiations. has called for a meeting between management and leaders of six unions with members in the Lancashire factories. This meeting may take place on Monday in London.

Foremen walk out

About 200 foremen walked out of the British Leyland truck and tractor factory at Bathgate, West Lothian, yesterday 2 hours before finishing time after their representatives reported that they were unable to contact management officials to discuss a pay claim.

Keith Adams

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