By our own Reporter
Workers at the Standard-Triumph factories at Coventry, where wage rates are among the highest in the country, were concerned yesterday lest the board changes in the company foreshadowed policy changes which could lead to redundancy or to attempts to cut wage rates.
Although Mr Douglas Fairbairn , district secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, has stated that “the unions are not so much concerned about changes in the board as with maintaining the protection of wages and conditions,” there was a sense of almost personal loss at the departure of so many familiar faces. Standard-Triumph has achieved the reputation of being a good employer, and union leaders are cautiously waiting to see the effect of the changes.
Wages at the firm for hourly paid workersâ€”about 7,000 of the total labour force of 8,000â€”average 10s 4d an hour, which is generally reckoned to be about £5 a week more than rates in the North. But an official pointed out yesterday that the tempo of work in Midland car factories is considerably faster than in many other parts of the country and any attempts to bring Midland rates into line with those of other districts would meet resistance.
Mr Alick Dick, the deposed managing director, left his farmhouse home near Leamington early yesterday, refusing to say anything about his resignation, but adding that he parted from Sir Henry Spurrier , chairman of Leylands, “on friendly terms.” He said he would be taking a long holiday, “fishing or superintending the building of my new boat,” but that he had no firm plans for the future.
Nor would the other directors who have been asked to retire make any comment ; two of them are away, Mr M. J. Tustin, in charge of engineering and manufacturing services, is in the United States ; and Mr M. Whitfield, sales director, is on holiday.
Nevertheless until a further statement is issued by Leylands, rumours of possible cuts in car production or of a change in the bias of production between cars and vans are likely to be circulating widely in the Coventry factories.
But in Liverpool it was announced yesterday that the reorganisation of the board of Standard-Triumph will not affect building of the new Standard car body works at Speke. Work of extending the present factory is going on and the £11,000,000 scheme to provide a million square feet of factory space has reached the stage where the contract for clearing the site has been settled.