By Our Northern Industrial Correspondent
British Leyland’s far-reaching plans for worker participation have led to a conflict between the company and shop stewards over the way in which shop floor representatives are to be appointed to the proposed new joint decision making bodies. The company wanted these posts to be filled by elections based on a full-scale ballot.
However, last night at a meeting between a 32-strong representative committee of all the British Leyland car plants and national union officials, the stewards insisted that the representatives to the first stage of the proposed three-tier joint management structure – the departmental committees-must be appointed from among the elected shop stewards.
This demand was backed by the union leaders and Mr Bob Wright, executive council member of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, said later: “We hold very stronglys that these people must be either senior shop stewards or shop stewards agreed by the trade unions. There is no question of going outside that.”
The way in which the worker representatives are appointed to the departmental committees is crucial, since the subsequent stages of the joint management worker structure at plant and divisional level will depend on it. The departmental committees will select from among their own number their representatives to go on to the plant committees and divisional councils. This procedure has already been agreed in earlier talks between company executives and union and shop stewards’ representatives.