By R. W. Shakespeare
Three-day week operations at British Leyland’s Austin-Morris assembly plant at Cowley, Oxford. have been halved because of internal labour disputes. No vehicles were produced on the night shift last night and the assembly lines will be shut today, one of the plant’s “power on” days under the emergency regulations.
This means that 8,500 workers are idle, losing not only their normal pay rates but overtime premiums for weekend working. Part of yesterday’s day shift at Cowley was also lost, and 4,000 assembly workers were sent home because of a new dispute involving 170 lorry drivers who walked out. The men demanded that they should revert to a normal five- day week of eight-hour shifts instead of the emergency three day working with overtime.
There was one quite significant “straw in the wind” yesterday, when most of the 800 workers in the print shop signed a petition expressing “no confidence ” in their shop stewards over the decision to call the overtime ban. The management has already made a personal approach to each of the 3,000 workers directly involved in the overtime ban decision, which follows a dispute over lay-off pay.
The feeling among management officials was that a vote taken at a meeting of workers earlier this week, after which the stewards announced the ban did not represent the majority view on the shop floor.