By R. W. Shakespeare
More than 6,500 British Leyland workers were laid off yesterday, production of three different car ranges was at a standstill and two other assembly lines were badly disrupted because of a strike by seven men in one of the company’s key component plants.
This fresh crisis in Britain’s struggling motor industry could become considerably worse unless the strikers decide’ to call’ off their stoppage when they meet today. The seven men are internal truck drivers from the Leyland owned factory of Oxford Radiators, which makes both radiators and petrol tanks for several car ranges. Because of their strike in support of a demand for job reclassification which would involve a wage increase, 500 other workers at
Oxford Radiators have been laid off, halting production and supplies of vital components have run out at some of the largest assembly plants.
At Longbridge, Birmingham, where output of Mini and Allegro cars is stopped, 5,000 of the 10,000 manual workers are laid off. At Cowley, Oxford; another 500 are laid off, production of the Princess models halted and Maxi output disrupted. The men on the Princess assembly line, who staged a sit in yesterday, are being recalled to help clear stocks of unfinished cars.
Mr Charles Hammond, a shop steward, said: “This was all we wanted.”
Yesterday another 550 workers were sent home from Leyland’s MG car plant at Abingdon because of component shortages. Today’s meeting of the strikers is a crucial one. On Monday they decided to stay out. Yesterday management officials met local officers from the Transport and General Workers’ Union to discuss the unofficial dispute. The drivers on strike have been told by the company that their regrading demand cannot be considered in isolation and that in any case the Government’s pay policy rules out any increase in the circumstances.