Archive : BLMC again faced with idle Marina lines in dispute over Cowley manning study

By R. W. Shakespeare Northern Industrial Correspondent

Production of the Marina car range at British Leyland’s Cowley car plant is likely to be at a standstill again today as the management makes further efforts to resolve a dispute at the plant. The dispute stopped the assembly lines for four days last week and has caused output losses of some 3,000 cars worth between £3m and £4m.

The dispute centres on shop floor objections to the management’s use of industrial engineers to study ways of cutting manning scales and increasing assembly line production rates. The issue is crucial to British Leyland’s overall strategy and the need to improve the productivity and profitability of manufacturing operations.

This is to match the new high earnings and guaranteed wage rates that have been brought in to replace piecework payments. At Cowley, the management is attempting to achieve greater flexibility of labour on the shop floor and to step up the assembly line speeds from the present maximum of 27 to 30 cars an hour. Cowley was the first of the major car plants to make the change to standard day work rates. The dispute could have far-reaching implications for the rest of the car manufacturing centres which have subsequently been involved in the change from piecework. These include the Midlands plants at Birmingham and Coventry.

Peace on Merseyside: Peace returns to the car industry on Merseyside today at the two British Leyland factories at Speke. A mass meeting of the 370 strikers in the press shop at Woodend, who caused, 2000 Triumph workers to be laid off at that factory and the adjacent one of Speke Hall, decided on Saturday to return.

Keith Adams

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