Three thousand men were idle at British Leyland’s Longbridge factory in Birmingham yesterday after a car assembler on piece work rates accidentally picked up a fellow worker’s pay slip, and saw that hourly paid men were earning as much as piece work men. One thousand assemblers on piece work then walked out, halting production of Austin Mini and 1800 models.
A further 2000 men were laid off. The strikers, on day and night shift assembly claim that hourly paid workers, who are all employed on sub units, depend on the efforts of pieceworkers. The men who walked out say that in some cases the hourly paid men, who guide car bodies and other sub units into position on the track, and also viewers are earning more than them. The disparity in wages stems from a job evaluation exercise brought in by the management, say the assemblers.
The day workers received a £1 a week pay increase before accepting the principle of job evaluation with a proviso that payments for any saving accruing from job evaluation should be backdated to last April. The assemblers claim that the job evaluation exercise failed to produce the expected result, but the day workers received a further pay increase in recognition of their cooperation in the study. The strikers are expected to return to the factory today.
1000 Strike After A Peep At A Pay Slip
By Paul Connew
One thousand car workers walked out on unofficial strike yesterday after one of them had accidentally seen a mate’s pay slip.
The walk-out — at the giant British Leyland plant at Longbridge, Birmingham—caused 2,000 other workers to be laid off .
And it halted production of all Minis and the company’s 1800 saloon model. The pay slip belonged to an hourly-paid ” slinger”—a man who guides car bodies into position on the assembly tracks. The man who saw it was one of the assembly workers, who are among the highest-paid men in the car industry. He told his fellow assemblers that the slip showed that the slingers earned more than them.
The assembly men who are skilled workers, regard the slingers as labourers—and normally earn between £4 and £5 a week more than the.
As soon as the 1,000 men heard about the pay slip, they walked out. The strikers claimed that the slingers were being paid too much because of a disparity in wage rates introduced after a time-and motion study.
The walk-out came only a few hours before area officers of the National Union of Vehicle Builders were due to discuss the strikers piecework grievances.
Last night a NUVB spokesman in Birmingham said: “A slinger, to me is a labourer. I could well understand the pieceworkers
being hopping mad if they were in fact earning less.”
British Leyland issued a statement, saying: “The strikers have walked out without proper discussion . So we do not know to what extent their grievances are related to any question of finding a pay slip—an incident which, in any case, we know nothing about.”
The strikers are to meet outside the factory today to discuss their next move.