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Raymond Challinor

As Lancashire dispute enters second week –

Leyland Strike Call
Against Union Laws

(29 May 1969)

From Socialist Worker, No. 124, 29 May 1969, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

SHOP STEWARDS AND CONVENORS representing 200,000 workers in the giant British Leyland car plants have called for a strike throughout the combine on the day the government’s anti-union legislation becomes law.

The unanimous strike decision was taken at a meeting of the Leyland combine committee. Present were stewards and convenors from the mid-Lancashire plants which are now in the second week of their strike for equal pay with the rest of the group.

All five factories, with 8,500 workers, are at a total standstill.

The strike is so solid that there is no need for pickets after nine o’clock in the morning. The workers are determined to stay out until their demand for £24 a week for skilled men is met.

The dispute – the first at the mid-Lancs plants for more than 40 years – is likely to affect other sections of the motor industry this week. Leyland supply cylinder blocks to Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, Albion and AEC.

Stokes stunned

Jaguar will be the first to be hit and may start laying off workers at the end of the week.

Lord Stokes, £45,000 a year chairman of the Leyland group, has been stunned by the strike and the militant determination of the workers to stick out for victory.

He wandered forlornly through the empty works last week before leaving for a holiday in Spain – where Franco has been recently rounding up and jailing trade unionists. Perhaps Stokes is on a fact-finding mission for Barbara Castle.

The management has also been staggered by the support of women workers for the strike. They are demanding the same increases as the men to bring them up to the rate for the rest of the group.

Forty per cent of the workers stand to gain nothing from the strike. They are not piece workers, but they are determined to stick by their mates.

Bad conditions

Convenor of shop stewards Len Brindle said this week: ‘If the White Paper In Place of Strife is correct then these works, which have been trouble free for so long, should have the highest pay and best conditions.’

But the opposite is the case. The management have abused good labour relations and the workers have bad pay and conditions.

Even if they win their demand for £24 a week they will still be as much as £10 a week behind Midlands car workers.

Stewards say the management has pursued a tough policy towards piece workers. National agreements have been broken and the normal channels of management-union procedure ignored.

If the strike continues next week, the stewards plan to stage a mass rally, with support from other factories [phrase illegible]

[paragraph illegible]

Leyland Laughter

LEYLAND strikers say the reason why their skilled workers are £5 a week below the rates for lavatory attendants at Pressed Steel is because the latter are on ‘time and a turd’.

IT IS CLAIMED that when Lord Stokes received his knighthood the Queen said ‘Arise, Sir Donald’, to which he replied, ‘Never!’

THE BISHOP of Blackburn said this week he is praying about the strike. He claimed authority to speak on the strike as a ‘fully blown up member of the gas workers division’ of the General and Municipal Workers’ Union.

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