Stewards call for mass BL lobby
By R. W. Shakespeare Northern Industrial Correspondent
Shop stewards in the Midlands have called for a mass lobby by British Leyland workers tomorrow morning outside the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers’ hall in Birmingham, where a three- man executive inquiry by the AUEW will be opened into the dismissal of the Communist convener, Mr Derek Robinson.
The joint shop stewards’ committee from BL’s Longbridge plant, where Mr Robinson was convener, are pressing for the union leadership to “vindicate him of all charges and press the company for his reinstatement “. The AUEW national executive undertook to set up the inquiry during crisis talks with the BL management when vehicle production was being crippled by strikes and consequent lay-offs over the dismissal of Mr Robinson and the disciplining of three other shop stewards.
The dismissal came after a statement by Sir Michael Edwardes, the BL chairman claiming that Mr Robinson was actively trying to undermine the company’s recovery strategy despite an overwhelming shop floor vote in support. The union inquiry, which will be conducted by Mr Gerry Russell, executive member for the North-west, Mr John Wheatley, Wales, and Mr Kenneth Cure, Midlands, is due to open at 9.30 am. The mass lobby has been called for 9 am.
If enough workers. attend, BL production will be affected. Losses during the stoppages over the’ Robinson affair have already amounted to more than £70m of vehicles. It was only yesterday that the assembly lines returned to full production with the recall of the last of the workers laid off. A few remaining workers still laid off from body-pressing plants at Swindon and Liverpool are due to be recalled tomorrow morning.
Day shift only: For the first time in 20 years car assembly at Cowley is to be limited to the day shift (Our Oxford. Correspondent writes). Austin Morris said yesterday that it planned to stop the Marina night shift in January, when 600 workers would switch to the day shift. The Marina programme will be maintained at 2,500 cars a week, or 32 an hour, under the new plans.