By Clifford Webb
Midland Industrial Correspondent
British Leyland’s determination to end piecework in all its factories has caused production of another of the group’s best-selling cars- the Austin 1800-2200-to be halted. Production of Jaguar XJ6/XJ12 saloons has been stopped for seven weeks because of a similar dispute. In the new dispute three hundred paint shop workers walked out at Longbridge after the management had again refused to consider wage demands unless the men accept a new flat-rate system of payment in place of piecework.
A further 800 men have been laid off at Longbridge and 90 at the Castle Bromwich body factory. The stoppage emphasizes the importance of a works conference which yesterday failed to agree on a £4 to £6 a week piecework claim by men in the Marina engine assembly shop at Longbridge. This is one of a large number of similar claims which have been through the disputes procedure without concessions on either side.
Now the Marina men’s claim has completed the procedure, the way is clear for the company to impose the new flat-rate system, as it did at Cowley. Shop stewards are convinced that an attempt will be made to do this within the next few weeks. They insist that if management provoke a major confrontation in this way they will face an all-out strike by a work force which has voted overwhelmingly to retain piecework.
A fourth attempt got under way last night to find a peace formula at Jaguar, when talks started between strikers’ representatives and management. These discussions will resume today.