A likely contender for the title of the year’s most pointless strike was ended here today at the Longbridge factory of the Austin Motor Company, where more than 5,000 men lost a shift’s work because 150 sheet metal workers went on strike in protest against new tool boxes provided for them by the management. Union officials have now persuaded their members to go back to work.
According to the company the new lockers were installed as part of a £50,000 scheme for improving working conditions in the department. They are arranged in rows of 20, the tops forming a long bench for the men to sit on during workbreaks. The old lockers they replace were individual boxes, one for each man, but the management said there was no question of the workers losing the right to their own individual lockers. No comment on the dispute was made by the union officials, but it is understood that the men’s grievance was not against the new lockers as such but against their personal belongings being transferred to them without notification.
Considerable resentment was felt by men of other unions at losing a day’s work over so trivial a dispute, and the shop stewards involved are likely to face criticism at the next meeting of the factory joint stewards’ committee.