By Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent
The 10 day old shutdown of British Leyland’s car plant at Cowley, near Oxford. is now seriously affecting sales of the Marina and Maxi, which together account for more than 12 per cent of the group’s total United Kingdom sales. Last night, Morris dealers said they were losing customers almost daily because they were without stocks and unable to quote delivery dates.
But even more damaging in the long term is the effect on export markets. The Marina has only recently been launched in several overseas countries and already orders pouring in are well in excess of forecasts. In the past BLMC has suffered from its inability to back overseas launches of new models with consistent deliveries. Now it seems certain that the Marina will get off to the same poor start.
By tonight the company will have lost £8m worth of cars and there is still no sign of a break in the deadlock, which has followed the suspension of 2,250 body workers. By yesterday, a total of 7,500 men had been suspended or laid off. A further 1000 expect to be laid off at any time. Last night the company repeated that its offer of £44.20 a week was final, although it was open to general discussion.
Production of the Triumph Toledo stopped at the company’s Liverpool plant yesterday and 1,400 workers were sent home. A week old strike by 70 men at the company’s Radford component factory has halted supplies of rear axles for all Triumph models. Another 3,500 men have been laid off at Coventry since Monday.