British Leyland has been first to be badly affected by component shortages largely because it was keeping stocks at its assembly plants low as part of the effort to deal with its cash flow difficulties. At Longbridge, Birmingham, production of Mini and Allegro cars has been halted and 3,800 workers have been laid off, together with 900 at the body plant at Castle Bromwich.
At Cowley, Oxford, production of Maxi cars has been stopped and 800 workers have been laid off. Further announcements are expected today about cuts in the production of the other Austin/ Morris cars, including, at Cowley, the recently launched 18/22 range. By later next week almost all British Leyland car production countrywide will be affected by component shortages, unless the Dunlop strike ends.
On this day Lord Stokes and the British Leyland board accepted the Ryder Reports recommendations.
In a speech the leader of the opposition Conservative party Mrs Margaret Thatcher said of the Ryder report: “Its proposals put massive obligations on the taxpayer in return for very little from the firm and no commitments whatsoever from the unions… Unless we can ensure a flourishing and competitive industry capable of producing a product at a price people will pay, it is not only the future of British Leyland that is at stake, but the very standards and standing of the British nation itself “.
Her collegaue Sir Keith Joseph attacked Anthony Wedgewood Benn, the industry minister: “This is the man who has never run a whelk stall and who thinks he can run British industry. This is the man who forced the marriage of Leyland and Austin Morris which has led to the disaster and now intends to reinforce failure with the taxpayers’ money.”