By R. W. Shakespeare
Continuing troubles on the shop floor at British Leyland’s car plant at Cowley, Oxford, led to another shutdown of all assembly of the Marina car range yesterday. Soon after the speed of the line had been raised to 30 an hour, shop stewards called the 800 men to a meeting. Work was not resumed and about 1,200 workers were sent home.
With more disruption likely, other workers may have to be laid off during this week. The Marina lines were closed for four days last week, and production losses now total well over £4m at a time when British Leyland faces a heavy backlog of orders. The further standstill yesterday came after a mass meeting of assembly workers had renewed their objection to the management’s use of industrial engineers to carry out studies concerned with the reorganization of working arrangements.
British Leyland’s plan is to reduce manning scales and adjust line speeds to achieve increased productivity. Although the Cowley management takes the line that it has a prior commitment by the unions to measures it is taking, it hopes to negotiate a settlement of the dispute, which is causing the loss of some 750 vehicles a day. But no talks have yet been arranged, and it seems unlikely that there can be a resumption of production today.