By R. W. Shakespeare
About 10,000 workers in nine of British Leyland’s Rover car plants,seven in the Midlands and two in Cardiff, began a three-day strike yesterday and there is a probability that shop stewards will call for an all-out indefinite strike from next Monday unless their pay demands are met.
The shutdown of the Rover operations comes at a time when another 8,000 British Leyland car workers in the Triumph plants in Coventry, have given the company notice that they too will strike from the end of this month unless their pay dispute is resolved.
The latest trouble for British Leyland stems largely from its efforts to rationalize pay negotiating machinery by bringing various plant agreements into line so that larger bargaining units can be created. In order to achieve a common starting date for an agreement covering, all 10,000 Rover workers, the company has offered an interim settlement, lasting until January 1 next year, under which there would be an increase of £6.20 a week for all workers, backdated to January 1 of this year together, with consolidation of £1.80 a week cost of living threshold payments to basic rates.
This would have the effect of taking the main production workers’ rate up to £61.40 a Week. A new pay deal would then have to be negotiated to take effect from January 1. After lengthy negotiations these proposals have been turned down, and the Rover workers are demanding an additional £5 a week immediately on top of the £6.20 which the company’ is offering. The strike is unofficial because British Levland’s disputes procedure, agreed with the car unions has not yet been exhausted.