Chairman of Britain's BL automaker scores major victory over unions

Sir Michael Edwardes, chairman of BL, the troubled automaker, has notched up another important victory over the trade unions. By appealing over the heads of union leaders he persuaded 1,500 workers to return to their jobs and thus pull BL back from the brink of total collapse.

Sir Michael's latest confrontation arose out of a dispute over the dismissal of eight car workers at the company's Longbridge factory where the new Mini Metro is produced. When 1,500 men struck in sympathy, Mini Metros stopped coming off the assembly line, cutting off one of Leyland's main sources of revenue.

Rather than agree to reinstate the "Longbridge Eight," Sir Michael wrote each striking worker a letter, stating that if he did not return to work on Jan. 5, he would lose his job. He agreed to an inquiry into the sacking. The workers voted t o return to their jobs.

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