13 MARCH 1953, Page 3

The Longbridge Strike

Thanks to some questionable manoeuvres the strike at Austin's Longbridge motor works has been kept going by the National Union of Vehicle Builders. Two thousand of its members and eight thousand others are idle in consequence. This, it may be recalled, is because the management has not re-engaged Mr. John McHugh, a senior shop steward who was among some hundreds of workers declared redundant last year. The union is attempting to establish the principle that shop .stewards are entitled to preferential treatment. On Monday the strikers held a meeting, and when it was proposed that a secret ballot should be held to discover the men's real opinion of this prolonged stoppage, which is causing much hardship, the strike leaders quickly disposed of that awkward suggestion by calling for a show of hands. But such smart tactics cannot be employed indefinitely, for it is quite clear that many members of the National Union of Vehicle Builders, to say nothing of the other eight thousand employees thrown out of work, are growing sus- picious of the true nature of the strike into which their leaders have plunged them. The Transport and General Workers' Union are among the most active in opposing the existing joint shop stewards' committee at the works : they are to set up another committee which will concern itself with wages, hours of work and conditions of employment, and not with political questions. For although there is no evidence that the Long- bridge strike is an official Communist project, there is no doubt at all that Communists are making full use of the opportunities presented to them by the National Union of Vehicle Builders.