From CLIFFORD WEBB,
Midland Industrial Correspondent
A mass meeting of strikers at G.K.N.-Sankey yesterday shouted down union officials urging a return to work and voted to continue their fortnight old unofficial strike. Motor industry production throughout the country now faces the most serious threat since the month long Lucas strike. Tonight over 12,000 men were idle in the industry because of this and other strikes.
Motor industry employers described as “terrible” the news from Sankey at Wellington, Shropshire, and gave warning that lay-offs and production shutdowns on a large scale would follow next week. The G.K.N.-Sankey strike is stopping supplies of heavy wheels, driving cabs and chassis numbers reaching vehicle factories.
British Leyland said the strike was biting hard into production almost everywhere. Truck and tractor assembly was at a standstill at Bathgate, in Scotland, where 2.400 workers were laid off until further notice. The supply of cabs to A.E.C., Southall. had reached a critical level. Other truck plants were working with great difficulty.
At M.G., Abingdon, 100 assembly workers were laid off and a further 100 redeployed. Triumph, Coventry will be shut on Monday for the second time in six days. As soon as 2000 workers were told today that they would be laid off on Monday because of the Sankey strike, shop stewards announced that the remaining 5,000 workers would not report.
They took similar action on Tuesday. when 1,300 men were laid off. The stewards have told the management that they will continue to shut the plant every time part of the labour force is sent home through outside strikes, until a system of guaranteed lay-off pay is introduced. Other British Leyland plants are threatened with similar action as part of a campaign directed by the group’s unofficial combined shop stewards committee.
Production of Rover 2000 and 3500 models was halted for a second day by a continuing strike of nine engine component cleaners over a pay dispute. Nearly 1,400 men were laid off at Rover plants in the Birmingham area and a further 350 at Rover, Cardiff.