By R. W. SHAKESPEARE
All car production at British Leyland’s giant Austin/Morris division plant at Longbridge is threatened by two serious unofficial strikes which began yesterday. The strikes started only 24 hours after the plant had reopened following the fortnight’s summer holiday shutdown. One dispute has already stopped assembly of 1800 model cars.
The second threatens to halt production of minis, 1100, and 1300 models within a day or two. Production of 1800s stopped yesterday because of a walkout of 270 men in the paint shop over a manning dispute. No assembly line workers were laid off. but clearly if the dispute remains unresolved today, and urgent talks are being held, this will follow.
The second strike involves 120 tool setters in the engine plant, which makes engines for minis, 1100 and 1300 cars and led to 1,200 workers on the day and night shifts yesterday being sent home. Day shift men from the engine plant have been asked to report again today to complete what work is possible with existing components, but work on the night shift is doubtful. The management has ” reasonable hopes” of being able to settle the paint shop dispute quickly, but the problem in the engine plant could be more difficult. The tool setters dispute arises out of the retirement of one man just before the holiday.
The setters, members of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry workers, claim that he must be replaced. The management have said that the volume of work in this department does not justify a replacement.