20,000 Likely To Be Idle In B.M.C. Factories
From Our Correspondent
BIRMINGHAM. APRIL 3
More than 20,000 workers employed by the British Motor Corporation are expected to be idle tomorrow after the decision of the 3,000 day workers employed at the Austin factory at Longbridge to continue their strike in support of a claim for a 36s. a week increase.
The strike, which is unofficial, began yesterday and the men’s unions appealed to them to return to work so that a meeting to discuss the dispute could be held with the management on Friday. Today the strikers reported for work but after a series of meetings lasting from 8 a.m. to late afternoon they decided by an overwhelming majority to continue the stoppage. During the day production at the Austin factory was at a standstill but the 15,000 piece workers were not sent home.
The night shift of between 4,000 and 4,500 men was sent home, and although the day shift are reporting for duty again tomorrow, it seems unlikely that there will be any work.
Other factories in the B.M.C. group are already feeling the effects of the stoppage. At the body building factory of Fisher and Ludlow in Birmingham 2,400 workers on today’s day and night shift were laid off and another 1,000 men at Morris Motors, Oxford, will be idle tomorrow when production of the Morris Minor and the 1-5 litre range comes to a standstill. Engines for these models are produced at Longbridge.
Tonight Mr. George Harriman, chairman of the British Motor Corporation, said the decision to continue the strike was “a crippling blow which will have very serious repercussions throughout the whole of the organization, and in many of our suppliers’ factories. too. The management has gone to great lengths to explain why the demand for an increase in day workers’ wages cannot be met and have pointed out the difficult times through which the corporation is passing, due to the credit squeeze, hire-purchase restrictions, increased purchase tax and the high competition in export markets in which it is now getting increased penetration.”
The employees concerned had been told that there must be a period of increased sales and production before wage demands could be considered.