Jaguar men go back for a deal they rejected
By Paul Connew
Strikers at the Jaguar car works went back to work yesterday claiming that they had been “starved out.”
After eleven weeks on strike they have settled for a pay package well below their original claim, and have agreed to virtually the same deal that they had already rejected three times. The strikers will have to wait three years for their pay rises to make up for the wages they lost during the stoppage. The rises average £3 a head.
The decision to return to work, taken at the firm’s Coventry sports ground yesterday, was by 723 votes to 579. After the meeting, strike-committee leader Mick Richards said: “This strike has been starved out. People just could not carry on.”
“Many strikers were already faced with eviction from their homes, and mortgage and hire-purchase debts were piling up.”
He added: “There will be a great deal of bitterness. But many people simply could not stand the financial strain of carrying on without any money coming in. It’s as simple as that.”
Fred Palmer, the transport workers official who has been handling negotiations settlement as ” disappointing.” He said : ” The financial burdens on the strikers have been mounting every week of this dispute.”
“Strike pay has not been paid, and the hardship fund set up has only been able to help a fraction of those in dire difficulties.” The management are just as unhappy at the results of the strike. They have lost nearly £33,000,000 in lost production and sales of their new wonder car, the XJ12.
Jaguar chiefs would not comment last night on suggestions that the price of the XJ12 may have to be increased to help recoup the losses through the strike, the longest in Jaguar’s history. The company had deliberately kept the XJ12’s selling price substantially below that of its two main foreign rivals, the BMW and Mercedes.
As Strike leaders and Jaguar management officials shook hands after yesterday’s meeting, a Jaguar spokesman said: “There is no victory here for anyone. Let us not talk of victory. We just want to get back to making motor cars.”
The new deal guarantees a wage of £44 for a forty hour week. And some trim-shop workers, who already earn £44 a week, will get a £105 lump sum on their return to work. This is virtually the same deal that was rejected a fortnight ago by 652 votes to 397 .
The deal represents a a breakthrough in British Leyland’s struggle to scrap the motor industry’s traditional piecework pay system and replace it with a flat-rate system.
Meanwhile, the company is carrying out special checks on the first 500 XJ12’s which have been standing idle in the picket-bound factory for more than eleven weeks. Once they are given clearance they will at last begin the journey to customers — probably tomorrow.