Victory For Leyland Moderates
By Tom Cunliffe
Twenty seven of British Leyland’s 33 manufacturing plants have rejected a call by shop stewards for an all out strike. The revolt by moderate workers in the dispute over bonus payments was completed as the 13 plants voting yesterday gave the thumbs down to industrial action.
Men at the vital Cowley assembly plant, where a mass meeting on Thursday ended in angry scenes, were among those who rejected the strike call. They voted 2-1 against action in a ballot organised after opinion seem to be divided on a show of hands.
Yesterday there were 3595 votes against a strike and 1887 in favour, with 21 spoilt papers. A BL spokesman said the turnout for yesterdays ballot at Cowley had been 98.7 %.
Among workers who voted against the strike yesterday were 7000 at the Triumph plant at Canley, Coventry. Rejection was said to be on a majority of 5 to 1.
At the Rover assembly plant in Solihull the vote was 4 to 1 against among 10000 men.An overwhelming majority of the 3500 workers at the Rover group of engine and transmission factories in Tyseley, Birmingham, also voted to reject the strike call, as did the 5000 shift workers at the Swindon body plant. The strike was recommended as a response to the state owned firms refusal to implement payments in a parity scheme between the BL plants.
However, hopes of a quick settlement to the dispute rest with the 19000 workers at the biggest plant – Longbridge, Birmingham – who have already walked out.
Workers at some key components centres have also voted to strike. Union leaders are due to meet on Monday to consider the result of the vote among the 100000 workers.
A BL spokesman said the rejection of the strike call was a clear indication that the vast majority of the workforce was prepared to back the recovery of BL.
‘BL expects the meeting of the national union officials and senior shop stewards on Monday to respect the clearly stated wishes of the workforce, and that those plants which were in favour of strike action will respect the wishes of the majority.
BL Cars hopes that the workers at Longbridge will end their unconstitutional action and go back as quickly as possible to get production going and help the introduction, at the earliest possible date, of the increases which will lead to equal pay for equal jobs across the company.”
Talks between management and unions aimed at finding a settlement broke down on Thursday night.