By Clifford Webb
Midland Industrial Correspondent
Mr FRW England (left), chairman of Jaguar, last night described as “totally irresponsible” a union claim that his company in any way welcomed or had taken advantage of the strike, nlow in its tenth week.
Mr Fred Palmer, Coventry organizer of the vehicle buiilders section of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, had said that but for the stoppage the company would have laid off assembly workers while it carried out extensive modifications, planned some time earlier, to the assembly tracks.
He said: “One track was ripped out as soon as the holiday fortnight began.”
Mr England, in reply, said only minor modifications were being carried out. These involved an assembly track not at present in use. “This would certainly not have meant men having to be laid off if there had been no strike.”
In fact the strike is holding up our plans for expansion, particularly in starting a new night shift. We have already recruited about 300 of the 900 extra workers we wanted in June for stepping up our production. However, since this long strike began we have lost about 120 workers, most of whom were new recruits. When the strike finally ends we will have to start all over again.”
A company spokesman revealed later that Mr England had invited Mr Palmer and any other local or national union officials to visit the works and see at first hand the modifications being carried out. He continued: “So far they have not accepted our invitation to see for themselves that nothing we have done or proposed to do in any way affects the work avail- able.”
The strike committee is due to meet today.
Sir William Lyons, founder of Jaguar, from which he has just retired as chief executive, yesterday made his first personal comment on the strike. As company president and adviser, he said: “I am saddened that our work people seem bent on self- destruction.” He said that if the firm lost out against competition in export markets there could be a production cutback, perhaps to the prewar ex-port figure of less than 10 per cent of the total production. This could mean some 3,000 employees losing their jobs.