A key no-strike deal at the British Honda plant has been ditched by Derek Simpson, the left-wing leader of the engineering and manufacturing union, Amicus, according to The Times.

The newspaper said the scrapping of the peace agreement is expected to spread to other large Japanese car companies in the UK and heralds an era of tougher employment relations in British industry.

The Times said Simpson would tell Honda, where Amicus represents 4,000 workers, that the ability to strike is a fundamental human right which must be recognised along with full negotiating rights.

Similar no-strike agreements at Nissan, Europe’s most productive car plant in Sunderland, and Toyota in Derby may also be torn up shortly, the newspaper added.

The Times said Simpson’s action follows a pledge he made at the Trades Union Council last week to throw out “sweetheart” deals which were not in workers’ interests and to rewrite “the form book on industrial relations” if necessary.

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The Times said action would unnerve Japanese employers, who began investing in Britain in the 1980s partly because unions had been stripped of their powers. Nissan and Toyota entered agreements with the AEEU, which is now part of Amicus, but only on the condition that recognition would mean little negotiating power for the union and no strikes, the newspaper added.

The Times said that Honda, which has been in Britain since 1985, had resisted recognising a union until the AEEU last year forced it to a ballot under recent statutory recognition legislation. The vote in favour meant that Honda was the largest recognition deal struck under the legislation, which came into force two years ago, the newspaper said.

According to The Times, Simpson said: “The right to strike is a fundamental human right. To deny workers that right does nothing to improve industrial relations, it only makes them worse. We are dealing with Honda urgently and will give other deals urgent scrutiny.”

The Times said the Honda no-strike deal was struck earlier this year although both sides are still to sign a full agreement. Honda told The Times that it was still negotiating with Amicus.

The Times said Simpson’s challenge to Honda came as Ford’s UK Jaguar and Land Rover operations yesterday announced 400 redundancies each.

The Times said that Jaguar and Ford face pay and pensions claims to match a ground-breaking deal agreed with Land Rover last year that gave workers a 4.75% increase in the first year which unions said amounted to a 9.2% rise because of other privileges.

The Times said both companies were being asked to harmonise their pay and conditions upwards so that employees get the best of what both operations offer while Ford was being asked to cut the working week to 35 hours from 37 and to give workers an extra day’s holiday.

Tony Woodley, T&G deputy general secretary, told The Times: “We want employees to be rewarded for improvements in productivity which haven’t just been achieved by technical advances.”

He warned that there would be the “speediest stoppage in the car industry” if there was any attempt to weaken pensions at the companies, The Times added.