Archive : Picket leads back to work revolt

By David Jack

Shop floor peacemaker Don Harris will risk the fury of the picket line he deserted when he leads a We Want to Work revolt at British Leyland today. Mr Harris, aged 44, who was manning the barricades at the strike – bound Longbridge plant in Birmingham last week, admitted: “I ‘m scared. The last thing- I want to be is a martyr but someone has got to stop us from cutting our own throats. To carry on striking would be suicide.”

Mr Harris is one of 18,000 Longbridge men who jumped the gun and walked out last week before a companywide vote to decide whether to call an all-out strike over a pay parity row. But the 2—1 majority throughout Leyland factories against strike action and the letter to all Longbridge men from BL bosses spelling out the reasons why they had been unable to meet the back-dated parity payments changed his thinking. This morning hundreds of police will stand by at Longbridge in case of trouble. The two plants at Longbridge are among six of the 34 BL plants to have voted for a strike. Meanwhile Leyland boss Michael Edwardes has written to 500 of his top executives saying:

” It would not be a good investment for the company to make the parity payments in order to persuade Longbridge, in particular, to return to work. We have decided we shall make no concessions whatever. If we do not live with the principle of paying only for performance given then we are on the slippery slope.”

Keith Adams

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