Archive : Token Stoppage Called For At Birmingham

From Our Special Correspondent

A 24-hour token strike at the five British Motor Corporation factories in the Birmingham area was recommended tonight by a meeting here of more than 100 Transport and General Workers’ Union shop stewards representing 10,000 members in the five factories. They called for this action in support of the Oxford strikers and addressed their appeal to shop stewards of all other unions. Mr J. Williams, district secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, who is a T.G.W.U. official, said that a tentative date had been fixed for the strike, which would be unofficial. He declined to say when it would be.

The meeting also decided to ask works committees at the various factories to declare all work for the Morris Motors plant at Oxford “black.” This is a threat to the delivery of transmission and axle parts and engines.  A resolution passed at the meeting stated: “We regard the attack on Frank Horsman as an attack on all shop stewards in the B.M.C. This is a deliberate attempt by the company to intimidate all shop stewards and to prevent them carrying out their recognized function. We call on the executive committee of our union to pursue this fight with vigour and determination. We reaffirm that all the membership we represent in the B.M.C. factories are ready to respond to any call for further action in support of the reinstatement of Mr Horsman.”

Mr Williams explained that this was a call for the reinstatement of Mr Horsman in his job, with his status as shop steward to remain a matter for later negotiation. Production was normal today at all Birmingham factories of the B.M.C. except the Nuffield Metal Products works at Washwood. As long as the stoppage at Oxford continues there is little prospect of work there for 1,400 men who have been idle since before the industrial holiday.

Morris Strike Talks At Ministry To-Day
From Our Special Correspondent

In an effort to settle the strike at Morris Motors, Cowley, Mr Macleod, Minister of Labour, has asked union leaders and employers to meet at the Ministry tomorrow afternoon. An Oxford district offlcial of the Transport and General Workers’ Union said to-day, without expressing any hopes of what might be achieved at the meeting, that the union welcomed the opportunity it provided of finding a solution. Representatives of the Engineering and Allied Employers’ National Federation will be the first to meet Mr P. St. John Wilson; Chief Industrial Commissioner, at the Ministry. They will be followed an hour later by four union leaders-Mr Frank Cousins, secretary of the T.G.W.U.; Mr Frank Foulkes, president of the Electrical Trades Union; Mr William Carron, president of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and Mr F. S. Winchester, secretary of the National Union of Vehicle Builders.

An official of Morris Motors said today that 3,566 out of a total of 7,613 clock-in employees, including non- manual workers, did not report for work this morning. The 11 unions involved claimed that they were fully satisfied with the response to the strike called by the T.G.W.U. over the dismissal of their chief shop steward, Mr Frank Horsman. Those production workers who did report were members of the A.E.U., whose executive council are expected to consider at a routine meeting in London tomorrow requests by their own shop stewards at Cowley and the other 11 unions to declare their support for the strike. The union may now put off taking a decision on the request, as Mr Carron is to take part in the talks at the Ministry.

At the Pressed Steel Company’s Oxford factory all work for the B.M.C. has been declared ” black ” and about 450 workers have been laid off, a slightly higher number than before the beginning of the holidays two weeks ago. At Morris Motors’ radiator branch in Oxford the members of the T.G.W.U. holding key positions in stores and dispatch departments have also declared “black” all work for the corporation and a number of men have been laid off. At the M.G. and Riley works at Abingdon 100 men are still idle, as they were before the holidays.

It was thought in some quarters that pickets would be active this morning trying to persuade the A.E.U. men to stay out. However, there was not the least disturbance. The pickets gathered but nobody tore down in anger two pencilled notices pinned to the gates, one reading

“Why strike ? The firm who employs has the right to dismiss any one of you if he misbehaves ” and the other containing the words
“All unions are a menace.” At a meeting later in the morning Mr L. Kealey, national secretary of the T.G.W.U. engineering group, said that B.M.C. had dismissed three shop stewards in recent months. “It could be part of a systematic plan to get rid of militant shop stewards and have their own way completely so far as negotiations are concerned on the factory floor,”
he said.

Keith Adams

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