By R. W. Shakespeare Northern Industrial Correspondent
British Leyland, with nearly 8,000 workers idle and production heavily disrupted at plants in the Midlands and on Merseyside, may be forced to lay off several thousand more employees after the weekend. Car assembly plants and bodypressing factories will be facing mounting problems over component supplies following a decision yesterday by 800 workers to continue their strike at a British Leyland factory at Hemel Hempstead.
The factory makes suspension units and axles, mainly for Triumph and Jaguar bodies. The strikers are demanding a £10 a-week interim pay increase, although their present wage agreement does not expire until September. They will meet again next Thursday. Shortages of key components have already stopped production of the Triumph Toledo and Dolomite ranges, causing 2100 workers to be laid off at Coventry and 1,900 at Liverpool. Production of some Jaguar cars is also seriously curtailed, and 2,500 men are laid off at the assembly plant in Coventry.
A further 500 workers have had to be sent home from body-pressing factories in the Midlands and Swindon.