By Clifford Webb Midlands Industrial Correspondent
A British Leyland shop steward who refused to join a strike called in protest at the dismissal of Mr Derek Robinson, the shop stewards’ leader, has had his credentials withdrawn by his union and has been fined £10.
But last night Mr Eddie Howard, aged 31, a machine shop worker at Longbridge, where Mr Robinson is the convener, claimed that he was only carrying out the wishes of the men he represented. He said they had held a meeting and voted to stay at work.
“I have been a member of the Transport and General Workers’ Union since I was 16 and I have always gone on strike when required in the past. But we voted not to go out over Derek Robinson. We don’t support him.”
For that reason, he said, he felt fully justified in crossing picket lines thrown around the plant within hours of Mr Robinson’s dismissal on November 19. The union’s action against Mr Howard is surprising in view of the confusion that followed the decision of the union’s West Midlands regional finance and general purposes Committtee to declare the strike official. When Mr Robinson’s own union, the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, refused to make the strike official, embarrassed leaders of the TGWU ordered the West Midlands to withdraw official recognition.
The strike collapsed soon afterwards. The AUEW inquiry into the dismissal of Mr Robinson is now in its final stages, but it is still not clear when the findings will be announced. It is understood that the volume of evidence taken from union and management witnesses is proving very difficult to sift and collate. As a result the report of the three-man inquiry team could still be weeks away. The AUEW has said that it will call an official strike if the inquiry reports that Mr Robinson was wrongfully dismissed.
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