Reports from both England and France have confirmed that Transcendental Meditation are currently negotiating factory take-overs - the international cult. The movement puts forward its aim as being not primarily concerned with commercial success in any enterprise, but rather with a TM-meditating workforce such success "would be inevitable". A claim which in both countries appeals to government planners: TM assures jobs in stricken industries.
In Liverpool people speak now of "Meccano Maharishi" where Airfix Industries' troubled subsidiary Meccano (childrens toy manufacturers) has lost £ 4.14 millions in three years trading. In the seventh week of a worker sit-in, following the factory's abrupt closure, a company called "Age of Enlightenment" expressed interest. TM set up this company, announcing that it sought a state-aided factory in Britain as a model of labour relations, and also to show the productivity benefits from their meditation. His Holiness the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi will want Meccano employees to vary the monotony of work with some hours of meditation. After a few years Meccano will be phased out in favour of some new electronic product. The "Age of Enlightenment" will probably vouchsafe £ 1 million towards the project: the Government, Liverpool council and private industry the rest. Ralph Ehrmann, Airfix chairman, has been meeting Maharishi representatives, who paid £ 250.000 for HQ in Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire a year ago. Mr Peter Warburton, the sect's "Minister for Information and Inspiration" claims that TM owns factories in West-Germany, Japan and in the U.S., but he backs off from detailed questioning from journalists. An advanced course in TM teaching would cost between £ 400 - £ 1,200 for an eight-week course, but Mr Warburton said this could be waived for any of the 900-odd workers recently employed who wished to stay at their jobs and meditate. Shop stewards in the now occupied factory are interested, but various sceptical voices have been raised at the top of the General and Municipal Workers Union, not least because of the "Age of Enlightenment" Company's ambivalent attitude to the closed shop (Restriction on trade union membership).
265 employees in a similarly stricken factory "Sapitex" in Rennes, Brittany (France) also have to contemplate the imminent necessity of meditating in order to keep their jobs. The company has subsidiaries in several French towns which could also be taken over, the TM representatives assure, under the same conditions. As in England, TM explains to the various authorities here that their meditation is the basis for the "dynamic development of a commercial enterprise". A secret ballot among all participants within the" factory as it now stands is to take place before a final decision could be given to TM, because as a foreign concern buying a French business (TM is based in Switzerland), any agreement reached would have to be first cleared with the Minister for Labour in Paris. However the Socialist Mayor of Rennes, Edmond Herve has been quick to emphasize the necessity of first assuring philosophical, religious, political and trade union freedom for workers in any possible TM take-over.
Interesting that both Breton and English people, who are in the places TM intends to "set up shop", are very concerned about His Holiness' ideas on industrial harmony, TM's orchestration of which is a none too ambiguous condition of employment.
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