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British Leyland facing overtime ban over 5000 redundancies

22 December 1970

By Clifford Webb
Midland Industrial Correspondent

British Leyland faces a ban on overtime and recruitment of new labour throughout its Austin- Morris division if it-carries out its plans to make 5000 workers redundant in the new year. The National Union of Vehicle Builders is recommending action to the next meeting of the Birmingham committee of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, which represents all the manual unions in the motor industry. The committee meets on January 12.

Mr. George Evans. the N.U.V.B.'s senior official in Birmingham, said last night: "We believe there is room for some redeployment of the men declared redundant. We have had experience in the past of wholesale redundancies with this company which have been followed by recruitment"

He said his members were well aware that certain work such as urgently needed maintenance, could only. be carried out by overtime working. For this reason if the ban were imposed it would be restricted to actual production. Similarly a ban on the recruitment of new labour would not extend to specialist grades.

"Neither are we as a union prepared to undertake unilateral action, although our members constitute about half the total number of redundancies in the Birmingham area ".

Mr. Evans said. "That is why we are proposing joint action to the confederation. On the other hand I do not discount the possibility of individual action by union members."

The first batch of final notices, which are due to be issued on January 1, are confined to white collar workers. Some of them have already received preliminary notices. In an attempt to delay final implementation as long as possible the Clerical and Administrative Workers Union has invoked the industry's long winded disputes procedure. It clearly hopes that by dragging the issue through months of negotiations Austin-Morris trading prospects will have improved sufficiently to enable it to retain some of those due for dismissal.

Mr. Frank Leith, the union's Midland area secretary, said last night: "We are under pressure from our members to take militant action to prevent these redundancies. If the company decides to ignore the recognized disputes procedure and goes ahead with issuing these notices then we shall have to think again."

An Austin-Morris spokesman woud not comment on the possibility of final notices being delayed, but added: "Final notices will not be received until after January 1st".

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