By Kingsley Squire
Jaguar’s new 140-mile-an-hour saloon was marooned in its factory yesterday . the day it was due to be unveiled. Strike pickets kept 500 of the new models from going on display in showrooms throughout the country.
But the bosses did manage to sneak three of the new XJ12’s past pickets at the Coventry factory , by disguising them. They were fitted with front grilles, wheels and number plates from the older and less powerful XJ6. Two went on display in the Jaguar and Leyland showrooms in Piccadilly, London, and the third went into an exhibition in Coventry, marking Jaguar’s 50th anniversary.
For two weeks Jaguar has been crippled by a strike of 2,000 workers who want a piecework increase of about £6 a week. The dispute, which has laid off another 3,000 workers, was carefully timed to coincide with the release of the new model. Mr. Fred Palmer, local organiser of the National Union of Vehicle Builders, the main union involved, officially regretted it had been necessary to hold up the car.
But he added: “It was part of their tactics . They went on strike three weeks ago knowing that the new model was a prime factor.”
The dispute, which has cost Jaguar more than £5 million in lost production at the rate of £450,000 a day. It is also causing a nationwide bottleneck in Jaguar repairs because nothing is moving in or out of the factory. Said the company spokesman: “This is a quite disasterous strike for us particularly since between 50 and 60 per cent of our production goes for export.”
The company has made no offer on the men’s claim, but yesterday a fresh round of talks began in a bid to find a settlement . Said Mr Palmer, before going to the meeting: “Both sides seem prepared to stand by what they have been saying all along. We could be in for a marathon session and a lengthy dispute if the situation is not resolved.”