By R. W. SHAKESPEARE, Northern Industrial Correspondent
As the motor industry today enters another week of mounting labour troubles it faces the possibility of the worst production chaos for several years over large sections of the industry. Nearly 20,000 workers are idle, either because of strikes in which they are directly involved or because stoppages have shut off supplies of vital parts. Many more workers face lay-off during the next few days unless settle-ments are reached.
At Leyland and Chorley, in Lancashire, the strike by 8,500 workers in British Leyland’s five bus, truck, diesel engine and spares plants enters its third week with only vague hopes of a peace formula coming out of today’s talks at the Engineering Employers’ Federation headquarters in London. Some 2,000 production workers at the Glasgow factory of Albion Motors, which gets its diesel engines from Leyland, have already been laid off and the effects of the Lancashire strike may well spread this week to other British Leyland subsidiaries which rely on power units and spares from the closed plants.
A second dispute at the British Leyland-owned Pressed Steel- Fisher at Cowley is hitting car production across a wide range of models and means no work for thousands of men today. It involves 89 pipefitters and their mates who have walked out over a demarcation issue at the Cowley body-pressing plant. The immediate effect, before the weekend. was to halt production of Rootes medium saloons at its Ryton, Coventry, plant where nearly 2,000 men were sent home; to bring production to a standstill at the M.G. sports car factory at Abingdon, Berkshire, with the lay-off of 650 workers: and to hit Rover output at Solihull where another 1,000 men were stopped.
Across the road from the Pressed Steel-Fisher factory the Austin-Morris factory faces a complete shut down of the lines producing the new Maxi modeL Before the weekend 250 men Were laid off, but another 2,000 could be involved very soon unless the supply of body pressings is resumed. There are hopes that yet another dispute involving 175 foundry workers at Bean Industries of Tipton, Staffordshire – another British Leyland subsidiary, may be settled today.
These men walked out last Thursday after management complaints that they were spending too long over their tea break.