By R. W. Shakespeare
Strong criticisms made by Lord Ryder, chairman of the National Enterprise Board, of unofficial strikers in British Leyland appear to have brought a quick response from shop stewards representing 230 workers who are involved in the latest stoppage.
Yesterday, Mr Jim Mason, regional secretary of the General and Municipal Workers Union, disclosed that at a mass meeting next Monday morning the stewards will recommend a return to work at British Leyland’s key car body making plant at Castle Bromwich to allow for further talks. At the same time, Mr Mason hit back at Lord Ryder by claiming that “unhelpful intrusion “, of the sort he had made, in unofficial disputes could easily lead to ,a hardening of attitudes and make matters worse.
He said : ” When men are acting like this, without the support of their union, and somebody like Ryder intrudes, it tends to get their backs up and make the situation worse.”
On Thursday when Lord Ryder took up his new post as chairman of the NEB, which gives him effective control over British Leyland’s purse strings , he said that unofficial strikes in the car plants must stop and that there would have to be a big increase in productivity if the Government was to go ahead with plans to pump public money into the company. The men on strike at Castle Bromwich are press operators. They walked out a week ago in dispute with the management over work allocation and rest periods.
Closure warning: Mr Des North, plant director at British Leyland’s North works at Cowley, Oxford, issued an ultimatum to workers in the complex last night: “Work harder or we close you down.”
In a letter to the workers, he said: “The present performance from the North works is unacceptable. The plant is running at a significant loss and all our futures are in jeopardy.”