By GEOFFREY GOODMAN,
British Leyland Chairman Lord Stokes was offered a unique peace treaty yesterday by union leaders and shop stewards.
The shop stewards, meeting with their national union chiefs in Birmingham, said that they were willing to co-operate
with the management in probing labour relations at each of the group’s seventy factories.
And, they told the union chiefs, once the problems had been identified, they would be ready and willing to help to curb wildcat strikes. This ” peace offer ” is the British Leyland workers’ answer to Lord Stokes’s recent bitter attack on ” industrial anarchy ” throughout the giant combine.
Mr Jack Jones, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, and chairman at yesterday’s meeting, said last night: ” It was remarkably constructive. When the fact-finding exercise has been completed, there will be another meeting between union officials and shop stewards.
” It is now up to management to make sure that there is a response from their side.”
At yesterday’s meeting, attended by about 300 shop stewards and thirty union officials, the shop stewards stressed that the peace plan could not succeed without the co-operation of the management at each individual factory.
They said that the present managerial set-up was at least partly responsible for all the labour trouble that has plagued the group.
For, they claimed, local management lacked any real authority to settle difficult disputes on the spot.
The shop stewards from the Austin plant at Longbridge, Birmingham. said that last year sixty major disputes had to be referred outside the factory because the management ” was unable to settle them.”
This was challenged last night by British Leyland. A spokesman said that they were ” amazed ” by the allegation.