BLMC SEEKS CHANGES IN PAY
By Geoffrey Whiteley
British Leyland is to continue negotiations with shop stewards at its Triumph car plant in Coventry over a new type of pay structure with which the company wants to replace the traditional pieceworking system. Talks at the plant yesterday were adjourned without agreement and both unions and management made it clear afterwards that they expect a Iong period of bargaining. Attempts to abolish pieceworking – which the management believes to be at the root of many of its labour problems – in the Triumph plant formthe latest stage of British Leyland’s plan to modernise pay structures throughout its popular car division.
A flat-rate system of payment which, the management argues, offers a guaranteed wage for agreed production levels is already operating at the company’s Austin-Morris plant at Cowley, Oxford, and at its Rover car works at SoIihull , Warwickshire.
At both plants the company’s point about the effect of pieceworking on labour relations appears to have been made. In the nine months up to the end of October , 1971, the number of disputes fell dramatically compared with the previous year . The Triumph chairman, Mr William Davies, has said on several occasions that the company needs to move away from the traditional and often controversial pieceworking system. The view is not shared by shopfloor workers at Triumph, who are presenting the most determined opposition to a flat-rate system of pay so far encountered by the BLMC management.
The company is bound to continue its attempts to “sell ” a new system to the shop floor, because until it can persuade Triumph workers to accept the change, the management is hardly in a position to approach the most difficult hurdle of all, the main assembly plant at Longbridge, Birmingham, where a defence of the traditional pieceworking system is firmly established.
While the Coventry talks were in progress yesterday, BLMC was having to cope with yet another pieceworking dispute. More than 2,000 workers are idle at the Jaguar and Daimler plant in the city because of two disputes in which 200 workers are on strike over pay difficulties. The strikers will not meet again until tomorrow.
But at Longbridge, a manning dispute which cost the company the lost production of 500 Minis, worth about £500,000 was settled. Two hundred machinists accepted proposals agreed between stewards and management and arranged to resume work this morning. The dispute , which began last week, made 3,000 other workers idle.