By R. W. Shakesneare
More than 8,000 workers were idle, either on strike or laid off, at British Leyland’s Triumph car factories in Coventry yesterday. Another 700 men were laid off at the company’s Liverpool plant and 250 more at a body pressings factory in Birmingham. The complete shutdown has halted production of the entire Triumph range, apart from the Toledo cars, which are still being made at Liverpool.
But output of these could soon be affected by components shortages, particularly engines which are made in Coventry. The stoppage is the result of a walkout by 1,000 assembly track workers at Coventry plant on Tuesday, only 24 hours after they had been recalled from a two weeks lay-off caused by a strike of control room operators.
Assembly line men, who are picketing the plant, are demanding payment for the time they lost through lay-off. Yesterday Mr Eddie McGarry, chairman of the joint shop stewards committee at Rover. Triumph, said that the stand being taken by the assembly men had the full support of other workers. He said:
“Workers who should have been earning about £55 a week have had their average earnings reduced to between £34 and £38 a week for the whole of last year, because of continuous lay-offs. It is always the track workers who. are hit most, because they are right at the end of the assembly line.”
To some extent the men’s claim has been reinforced by the fact that in a recent settlement at the Massey-Ferguson tractor plant in Coventry, manual workers were conceded the principle of lay-off pay; when stoppages result from industrial action among non-manual workers. Production losses for Triumph are now running at about £9m during the present troubles, and in three major disputes during the past two months, the plants have lost output of some £13.6m worth of vehicles at showroom values.