Selling your classic car? It's FREE to list your car on Honest John Classics | No thanks

Keep Away Red Robbo

28 November 1979

Keep Away Red Robbo
By Terence Stringer and Rob Chaytor

British Leyland are to pay Derek Robinson , the sacked Communist shop steward , £ 90 a week to stay at home. That was the deal they clinched with his Engineering Union yesterday to avoid a paralysing strike.

Leyland boss Sir Michael Edwardes, who was at the top secret meeting, warned that if the protest stoppages continued the giant car firm would soon shut down . But the pact raised a storm with the Transport Union which had already made the dispute official.
Under the agreement , Red Robbo will remain sacked while three members of his union conduct an inquiry.

General Secretary Terry Duffy said: "If we find that Mr Robinson was unfairly dismissed we will launch an official dispute. In the meantime, I hope there is a full return to work."

A British Leyland spokesman commented: "Although he is being paid , Mr Robinson is dismissed and remains dismissed. He will not be allowed onto our property during the inquiry."

The spokesman also made it plain that the company would not be bound by the outcome of the inquiry. Transport Union leaders were angry at being left in the lurch by the right-wing executive of the Engineering Union. John Barker the Transport Union's Birmingham district secretary , said : " We deplore their action . Our people and they represent 70 per cent of the workforce —remain on official strike until my committee meets tomorrow."

Jack Adams, one of Robbo's fellow shop stewards at Longbridge , said:  "Derek has been badly let down by his own union."'

But thousands of Longbridge workers, who had defied the unofficial strike call , cheered the news. One of them said : " We don't want him back. He is a born wrecker"

And what of Robbo himself? He said :  " I am bitterly disappointed at my executive refusing to defend basic union rights."

More news from the archive

Sat, 24 Nov 1979
BL is threatened by complete shutdown By Clifford Webb Midlands Industrial Correspondent The official trade union machinery closed...
Mon, 26 Nov 1979
Sir Michael Edwardes, chairman of BL, and all his senior managers will resign rather than bow to union pressure for the reinstatement...
Tue, 27 Nov 1979
Union leaders seek urgent meeting with BL chairman By Paul Routledge Leaders of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers are expected...
Wed, 28 Nov 1979
The executive of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers has backed away from a confrontation with British Leyland after reaching...
Wed, 28 Nov 1979
DAILY EXPRESS Outside the Longbridge plant 4,000 cheering engineers pledged their backing for Leyland , and voted to carry on working....
Thu, 29 Nov 1979
Second BL union backs away from strike By Clifford Webb and Donald Macintyre The Transport and General Workers' Union yesterday followed...
Thu, 29 Nov 1979
Geoffrey Robinson MP, former Jaguar boss writes to the Times. BL management From Mr Geoffrety Robinson MP for Coventry, North West...
Fri, 30 Nov 1979
Members of the joint shop stewards committee at British Leyland's Longbridge plant returned to work yesterday, and reluctantly acknowledged...
Fri, 30 Nov 1979
The future of British Leyland LETTERS TO THE EDITOR From Sir Michael Edwardes Sir, In his letter published in your newspaper yesterday...
Mon, 03 Dec 1979
BL management From Mr Geoffrey Robinson. MP for Coventry North West (Labour) Sir, In view of certain innuendoes I feel a reply is...