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Council Silence Over Peugeot Strike Threat

Trade unions locked in deadlock over the Peugeot strike threat successfully begged Coventry City Council not to become embroiled in the debate.

The council was due to discuss the issue at its meeting last night following a motion tabled by Socialist councillor Dave Nellist.

Cllr Nellist (St Michael’s) had urged his colleagues to express their regret at the management action, which he described as “draconian.”

He also urged the city council to express its full support for the workers at the Ryton plant.

Managers at Peugeot are today trying to persuade workers not to strike over new working conditions, which could see staff on the main four-day shift being asked to work extra Fridays to keep up with demand for the Peugeot 206.

Workers on the weekend shift could also face an extra day in the working week.

The result of a second ballot over the changes will be known on Wednesday. If the workers stick with their decision they will strike the next day.

Last night the city council pulled away from debating Cllr Nellist’s motion after the AEEU and TGWU unions asked to be allowed to continue negotiations without being under an intense public spotlight.

The unions, who had recommended that their members accept the management’s offer, convinced council leader Cllr Nick Nolan to use standing orders to move to the next business.

He said:

“It would be quite wrong for this council to debate this matter when we have been asked not to.

“The council is not part of the negotiating process and I am clear that we should respect the privacy of both Peugeot unions and management as they work together to resolve any differences.

“If we had been called upon to help in any way I am sure we would have considered that request in a positive way, but we have been asked quite expressly to leave this matter for resolution between Peugeot’s unions and management.

”We respect their right to conclude negotiations without reference to this or any other party which may not be in full command of the facts.”

However Cllr Nellist said the request had come from the same officials who continued to recommend that the management offer be accepted, despite an 86 per cent vote by the workforce against it.

He said:

”The idea to having last night’s debate was to let the shop floor have its ten minutes.

“The argument isn’t so much about the money. It is the fact that the pattern of their lives are being messed around with. This will be the seventh change to their shift pattern in the last 12 years.”

Cllr Nellist said he was concerned that the standing order was passed without him even being allowed a reply to it.

He said:

“This is censorship. The issue affects a lot of people in the city and their families and the council chamber is the place where these matters should be discussed – like the Rover crisis and minimum wage.

“The ballot process at Peugeot has probably finished by early this morning so it would not have affected the result.”

He added that a special meeting had been arranged at the Cox Street Working Men’s Club on Tuesday at 7.30pm to have the debate.

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CWN / Politics / Coventry City Council / 21 Jul 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM