The situation deteriorated at British Leyland’s Cowley complex where 8,000 men are refusing to work while industrial engineers are in the assembly plant. A further 2400 men were laid off yesterday in the adjoining body factory.
Management at Cowley where Morris Marinas and Maxis are produced insist that the strikers are in breach of an agreement signed 18 months ago permitting the company to introduce industrial engineers to carry out work measurement studies. The two major unions at Cowley, the Amalgamated Engineering Workers and the Transport and General Workers, were both parties to the agreement. Local officials admit this, but say that in forcing the present issue, the company is preventing them getting the men back to work.
Mr Malcolm Young the AUEW official in the Oxford area said last night: “I am not disputing the agreement which was part of the decision to switch from piecework to measured day work, but this whole thing has become far too emotional. In my view, the only way to take the steam out of it is for the company to withdraw the engineers,at least for the time being.”
It is understood, however, that British Leyland takes the view that to do this would be to delay a confrontation that is already 18 months overdue.
The strike of 130 clerical workers at Triumph, Coventry, is expected to end on Monday after a four day stoppage. They object to a January 1 pay rise being delayed until April by the Government’s pay and price controls. A further 7,500 employees are laid off and all car production is at a standstill at the plant.