From Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent, Birmingham
In a massive demonstration said by those taking part to be “expressing sympathy with the victims and disgust and revulsion with the bombers”,
4,000 workers walked out at six British Leyland car factories in the Birmingham area yesterday. Fights involving Irish workers disrupted production at the giant Longbridge plant where more than 20,000 are employed. Car assembly was stopped at Longbridge shortly after midday when 1,500 assembly line workers left the factory.
Production was also stopped by walkouts at five Rover factories manufacturing car engines and transmissions.
Men taking part in the Longbridge demonstration said the trouble started in the engine dispatch department soon after the morning shift arrived. One worker said: “You could cut the atmosphere with a knife right from the time we clocked in. One of the lads had a daughter injured and other victims are friends or relatives of men here. Some bloody stupid Irishman started shouting the odds for the IRA and got a bunch of fives in his teeth; The trouble spread to the assembly line and there were more fights. It stopped the line for about an hour before we decided to walk out.”
Other workers said they had told the management that they would not return until known Irish republican sympathizers among the many Irish workers had been removed.
“We know who they are and we have told the management”, they said.
British Leyland refused to comment on the disturbances. At Rover’s Tysley engine works all hourly-paid workers and some staff walked out when the news reached them that one of their colleagues, a foreman electrician, was among the dead. They were joined by workers at Acocks Green, Garrison Road, Perry Barr and Tyburn Road. It is understood that Irish workers at the factories were advised by management to go home. None of the factories affected is required to work this weekend, but when the men return on Monday they are expected to refuse to work unless certain Irish republican sympathizers have been refused admission.