By Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent
British Leyland Motor Corporation yesterday enforced its sternest measures yet against employees involved in a pay dispute. Over 2150 men on both the day and night shifts, who are taking part in a month-old go-slow campaign at its Cowley, Oxford, car body plant were suspended. When they refused to leave their machines the management shut off power supplies.
For a time the men staged a sit-in but later left to hold a meeting. A further 3,700 workers were laid off in the adjoining assembly plant halting all production. Mr David Simpson, director of the body plant, had warned the men five days ago that there was no possibility of an increase in the company’s offer of £44.20 for day shift workers and £52.73 for night shift men. He said unless restricted working was dropped immediately he would take action.
But he was careful to leave room for manoeuvre. Suspended men were asked to report for work today in the hope that they would go back to normal working. There seems little likelihood of this happening. Yesterday’s meeting rejected the company’s offer and insisted that body workers be given a different scale of payments and guarantees from assembly workers who have already accepted the company offer.
The suspended men have been advised by union officials to report for work this morning but to maintain sanctions. A further meeting has been called In a statement last night Mr Simpson said the restrictions being imposed in the Marina and Maxi body building shops were crippling production. The men were in breach of agreements and when they continued restrictions the company had no alternative but to suspend them.
The company’s offer provided the highest rates of pay in the motor industry.