By David Jack
A “who does what” dispute by 89 pipe fitters crippled production at five car plants yesterday making 6,000 men idle, and threatening the jobs of many more.
The pipe fitters and their mates walked out of the Pressed Steel Fisher car body plant in Cowley, Oxfordshire, claiming it was their job to carry out maintenance work on the air valves of welding equipment. Until now, the work has been done by the pipe fitters AND welding maintenance men. The absence of the pipe fitters quickly stopped production, as it cut off supplies of air needed by compressors. The management was forced to send home 2,500 car body workers and brought production of the British Leyland Maxl at Cowley to a halt.
By last night the lay-offs had spread to Rootes in Coventry where 2,000 men were idle, and Rovers at Solihull, Warwickshire, where 1,000 production men on the dollar-earning Rover 2000 model were sent home. The M.G. works at Abingdon was also hit. All these plants are supplied, with car bodies from Pressed Steel Fisher. Pressed Steel are prepared to meet officials of the strikers union-Sheet Metal Workers- when the men go back to work. British Leyland, already hit by other unofficial disputes, said last night that more than 16,800 of their workers had been laid off at the company’s plants.
At Leyland, Lancs, where production has halted at five factories, it was announced that talks between A.E.F president Mr Hugh Scanlon and the British Leyland management were to be held in London.
Hopes rose yesterday that the crippling strike by 8500 workers at British Leyland’s five Lancashire factories at Chorley and
Leyland would be called off .
Peace talks between leaders of the engineers union and the Engineering Employers Federation have been fixed for Monday when the mens claim for wage increases will be discussed. The fortnight-old dispute at the bus and truck factories caused 2,000 men to be laid off last night at the Albion motor works in Glasgow.
The effects of the walkout by eighty-nine pipe-fitters at the Pressed Steel Fisher car body plant at Cowley, Oxford, spread rapidly yesterday. The Maxi production line at Oxford was halted for the third day running by the dispute, and 1000 Rover workers at Solihull and 2,000 Rootes workers at Ryton were sent home. The pipe-fitters are involved in a ‘ who does what ” dispute.