Archive : Some Morris Motors Men Want Dismissals

FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
OXFORD, JAN. 15

Sharp cuts in the production of the Morris Minor and Mini-Minor cars, which have led to the introduction of two-and-a-half day shifts and two nights a week for about 1,800 men at Morris Motors, Ltd., Cowley, have caused a good deal of anger and given an edge to those trade unionists who have been arguing that redundancy is preferable to excessive short-time working. The Minor men object strongly to this extension of short-time working on their lines while other sections of the factory are still working a five-day week.

Men who have been earning more than £20 a week will be taking home between £7 and £10. They have told their shop stewards to fight this decision, and at a meeting on Tuesday the men’s representative will tell the management that they want a manpower cut on the Minor lines. The men want to retain the three-day week. They want the displaced workers to be placed in jobs in other parts of the factory, especially in the department which makes parts for the British Motor Corporation’s assembly plants abroad. So far this department has been unaffected by the cuts in production over the past few weeks.

It is understood that production of the Mini-Minor will be cut by a third from 279 a week to 183 a week and production of the Minor (at one time about 1,760 a week) cut by a sixth from 487 a week to 408. While the senior shop stewards of all unions are at present behind the work-sharing principle, many members of the Transport and General Workers’ Union (apparently with some official backing) are arguing that the majority’s living standards can be protected only if there are dismissals.

It is estimated that about 3,000 workers would have to be dismissed before a five- day week could be brought back throughout the factory, and these men argue that such dismissals would reveal how bad the situation is and would prompt immediate action. They fear that wage rates will be cut if the present labour force is retained. The situation will be discussed at a meeting in Oxford of shop stewards from all .B.M.C. factories next Saturday.

On January 30 there will be further demonstrations in London and a mass lobbying of M.P.s at the House of Commons, organized by the B.M.C. joint shop stewards’ committee.

Meanwhile, at the Pressed Steel Company, Cowley, 1,000 time workers, who have so far been working a five-day week, are to go on to four days with a weekly pay cut of about £2 10s. They have received a guarantee that the position will be reviewed every two weeks. The future model lines are not affected. For some time piece workers on the current production lines have been working a four-day and in some cases a three-day week.

Keith Adams

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