Thousands of workers in the Midlands had to be laid off within hours of returning from the industry’s autumn holiday. Car production was brought to a standstill at British Leyland’s Austin/Morris plant at Longbridge, Birmingham, because of strikes by minority groups from the 20,000 strong labour force who have rejected a new pay deal offering increases of up to £7.50 a week. By last night 10,000 workers at the Longbridge plant had been laid off and a company spokesman said there would be no car production today and it was possible that the lay-off figure could rise.
British Leyland’s fresh troubles at Longbridge centre on a pay agreement which the company spent four months negotiating with the car unions. Just over a week ago it was put to a ballot of all workers at Longbridge and there was an 11-1 majority in favour of its acceptance. However, a small group of indirect workers whose job is mainly to feed components to the assembly lines protested that the differential in wages between themselves and the main production workers must be closed and they walked out in protest. Without them no car assembly or engines production is possible.