Workers at Austin Rover get strike call
By Our Labour Correspondent
The motor industry moved further towards conflict yesterday after union leaders of 28,000 Austin Rover car workers rejected an improved pay offer and urged their members to strike from Monday.
More than 7000 production men at Jaguar are due to down tools on Thursday in support of a £25 a week pay rise. Mass meetings this week throughout Austin Rover will decide whether workers will walk out. Union negotiators have a strike mandate for the previous offer of about 9-9 per cent spread over two years. An extra 50p a week during the next 12 months and an extra £1 for the year after were put on the table yesterday. Austin Rover said that the old deal was worth £18.20 from November next year for the average production worker; but the new offer was worth £22.70.
“We would question the motives of some of the people on the union side. They seemed to be keen to pursue strike action. The new Austin Rover offer was made in seven hours of talks yesterday. A strike would cost the company about £12m a day in lost production. The unions have demanded a 20 per cent increase in a one year deal to replace the present two-year agreement, which runs out on Thursday:
The company has said that it will consider legal action if a strike goes ahead without a ballot. Mr Norman Haslam, company negotiator, said Austin Rover was also offering to include an extra £1.50p a week from bonuses into the wages structure and to increase sick pay.