By Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent
Car production at a second British Leyland factory was halted last night by fresh strike action. Some 1,500 Triumph assembly workers were laid off at Coventry when a walk-out by 70 employees at the company’s Radford components plant stopped supplies of rear axles. A further 3000 men are being laid off today.
Another 1000 will be laid off at Austin-Morris’s Cowley plant, near Oxford during the weekend, bringing the total idle at the plant to over 7000. All Marina and Maxi production has been stopped for the past four days, following the suspension of 2,250 men operating a go-slow campaign. By tonight the dispute will have cost the company £5m in lost production.
The Triumph strikers are demanding £2.50 a week bonus payment. A company spokesman said: “The dispute has stopped production of axles for all our cars except the Triumph 1500.”
Yesterday the suspended Cowley workers ended their daily sit-ins. For the previous three days they had clocked in at normal starting time and been permitted to begin work. Their performance was assessed for an hour and when it became obvious that they were still ” going slow” power was switched off and they were suspended for the remainder of the shift.
They replied by sitting in until relieved by the night shift men. Yesterday however they left the plant soon after being suspended. The gap between the two sides narrowed during the day, Mr David Buckle. Oxford District official of the Transport and (General Workers’ Union told Business News: “The press have made a lot of play about the men in the body plant sticking out for more money than their colleagues on assembly. But money is by no means the first priority. The important issue is the men’s need for genuine security of employment. Fourteen days’ pay is not enough. But I am not prepared to say what concessions would meet the men’s demand for more security. That is a matter for negotiations with the company. But I am afraid they have rejected invitations for genuine negotiations”.
The union’s Oxford district committee will meet on Sunday. It is understood that they will be recommended to back an all out strike by the suspended men.
Production of Austin-Morris Minis is threatened by a strike at GKN-Sankey, Bilston. Over 80 employees walked out when the company rejected their claim for separate wage negotiations.