FALLING OUTPUT DELAYS LEYLAND PAY PLAN
By Peter Hildrew, northern labour correspondent
The wage parity programme for 95,000 British Leyland car workers, is to be postponed because output has not been good enough to pay for it. Union leaders on the BL Cars joint negotiating council will be told today that pay increases are being withheld and that no date has been set for them to be implemented. There was an angry reaction to the news from rebel tool makers and the chairman of the unofficial toolroom committee, Mr Roy Fraser, said : “I am pretty certain there will be industrial action , but I am not going to forecast what or when that will be.”
The lorry drivers strike has contributed to the poor performance in recent weeks, but the company insisted yesterday that production targets were not being met even before the dispute began. The targets, negotiated at local level, are designed to ensure that the parity programme is self-financing, and the performance figures will be hotly debated at today’s meeting. The extra payments to establish the same rate for the same job in all 34 car factories were to be made in three stages, with up to £10 a week for some men.
The first instalment, backdated to last November, should have been paid this week but has now been deferred, making it likely that the remaining stages due in May and November this year will also be delayed. Higher, overtime and shift payments arising out of the national engineering agreement were also due this month but they too, have to be financed by increased productivity and may be shelved. All that the BL workers are certain to get is a basic 5 per cent rise, backdated to November 1. The BL shop stewards committee is to discuss the situation on Monday, but Mr Eddie McGarry, its deputy chairman, yesterday described the delay as ” a bitter blow.”
The payments plan was endorsed by two to one in a ballot of the manual work force in December.