by R. W. Shakespeare
British Leyland’s Austin-Morris plant at Longbridge, Birmingham, yesterday was still at a standstill with about 10,000 workers laid off because of the unofficial strike by 800 men employed in the body-handling and forge shop areas. They have refused to accept a new pay deal covering all workers at the plant.
Under this offer, accepted by an overwhelming majority by a ballot of workers over a week ago, there would be two-stage wage increases, the first back- dated to May and the second paid from next month. The “indirect” workers-who include the men on strike-would get a total of £6 a week more compared with up to £7.50 for the main production grade.
The strikers want this differential eliminated. The shutdown at Longbridge means that Mini, Allegro and 1800 car ranges are out of production. The plant is losing output of about 1,500 vehicles a day worth nearly £2m. The workers sent home get no lay-off pay because the shutdown results from an internal dispute.
At Longbridge, full-time union officials will attend sectional meetings today of the men who are on strike. Last night a British Leyland spokesman said: “We hope that this means that there will be some moves to resolve this problem. The position at the moment is that we are prevented from making cars and 10,000 workers have had to be sent home because certain small groups of men are refusing to abide by a settlement that was arrived at in negotiation with the unions and then accepted by a democratic vote of all workers”.