By R. W. Shakespeare
Many of the British Leyland toolroom workers whose unofficial strike is seriously disrupting car production will find themselves without jobs when the dispute is over. About a third of the 600 men on strike over demands for pay rises of more than £12 a week are likely to be declared redundant because their stoppage has led to the loss of a valuable overseas contract for machine tools. The recession in the industry means that there is no alternative work to replace this contract.
After a meeting between British Leyland management, union officials and shop stewards at the Castle Bromwich car body plant, where the strike is taking place, the company confirmed that the plant’s share of a £2m order placed by the newly formed South Korean motor organization Hyundai had been lost. The work involved orders for machine tools worth more than £300,000.
A management official said yesterday: “This contract has gone back to Hyundai, who will now have to place the work elsewhere. We have repeatedly warned the strikers that this order was in jeopardy at a time of great economic difficulty in the British motor industry. It is no idle statement that there is no other tool contracting work available in this field, and the loss of the Castle Bromwich part of the Hyundai contract must have very serious implications for future employment prospects.”
The contract was placed with British Leyland bv Mr George Turnbull, former managing director of BLMC. He is now vice- president in charge of the Hyundai operations in South Korea where a new motor manufacturing industrv is being established. Although British Leyland has officially put no figure on the extent of the resultant cutbacks at Castle Bromwich, the effects of the loss of the South Korea contract are inescapable.