Archive : Union sets precedent

Ending Jaguar strike
By our own Reporter

An important precedent has been set by the method of settling the dispute at the Jaguar factory in Coventry. Workers at the factory agreed at a meeting yesterday to return to work from this morning, after they had heard that the two men over whom the dispute arose had been fined £5 each by their union, the Transport and General Workers, and had agreed to absent themselves from work for two weeks without pay.

The night shift which they worked on February 5, the day of the national one-day token strike, will have cost the two men about £65 to £70 each, including their fines. It will have cost the Jaguar management considerably more. But the interesting point is that the formula for the men’s absence has apparently been reached by mutual consent between the Jaguar management, the unions, and the two men.

The initiative for the settlement came from the unions, through the employers association which approached the Jaguar management to ask that the two men should not return to work for two weeks on the urderstanding that after that period they would resume their normal work in the body detail shop. The two men, Mr Leslie Lines, of Hinckley Road, Nuneaton, and Mr Frank Diskin, of Tunnel Road, Gaily Common, Nuneaton, appeared before the union branch on Monday night, said they were sorry for their actions, and promised future obedience to union instructions. On this basis the joint shop stewards committee, which had called the workers out of the factory a week ago today, recommended a return to work at yesterday’s meeting. Only about ten workers at the meeting of rather more than a thousand voted against the recommendation.

“Domestic affair “

The Jaguar management, which has maintained from the beginning that the whole affair was a domestic one which could be settled only by the unions, expressed its willingness “to render any assistance to help reach a solution of their problems ” making it clear at the same time that it was not prepared to dismiss the two men.

The company yesterday restated its belief that ” nothing can be gained by precipitated action, and that the proper negotiating machinery is the only way to resolve these problems.” It also said that to have agreed to any action depriving the men of their livelihood would have been “most dishonourable.”

The view of the unions was perhaps best expressed by the chairman of the joint shop stewards committee, Mr Harry Adey, at the meeting when he said: “A lot of people may start cries of ‘Shame ‘ and ‘Why have they not expelled him ?’ We have to realise that a union has sat in judgment on two people who have done wrong, and in deciding to impose a fine have not been weak but strong in letting the punishment fit the crime.”

In all, the one-day strike and its succeeding dispute has cost the company about 700 cars, though possibly up to 1,000 may be lost before full production can be resumed. At the moment about £500,000 worth of cars which should have been shipped for export are awaiting completion at the factory.

Keith Adams

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