Archive : A week of massive disruption

By Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent

The motor industry faces another week of massive disruption, with strikes halting production at British Leyland and Chrysler car plants and threatening to do the same at Vauxhall. More than 20,000 workers are already idle. British Leyland losses are mounting at the daily rate of 1-7m, worth of cars.

With production of two key models- the Morris Marina and the Austin Allegro at a standstill’ the group’s already depleted market share will be weakened still further. Talks between union representatives and management are being resumed today to try to break the deadlocked strike. This has stopped assembly lines at Austin-Morris Cowley and led to 12,000 workers being laid off. A dispute involving 80 plant attendants, men responsible for stopping and starting assembly lines-has exhausted normal procedure without finding a compromise solution. Management are resisting the. attendants’ demands for regrading to the rank of skilled workers.

Talks began between the company and local union officials on Friday and will be resumed today. There are hopes that a peace formula can be arrived at permitting a return to work within the next 48 hours. But it now seems certain that the new Austin Allegro line at Longbridge will be shut for a further week. The 650 press operators on strike” at the groups body plant at Swindon, Wiltshire, are not due to meet again until Thursday.

The operators, who produce body panels for the Allegro, claim that in their efforts to increase output of the new car the management are setting unduly high output targets. Production at MG, Abingdon, and Triumph, Coventry, may also be hit if the Swindon strikers carry out their threat to picket this week, preventing delivery of Triumph Spitfire and MG sports car bodies.

Keith Adams
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