British Leyland Britain’s biggest employer is to cut its labour force. The news was given to union men in London yesterday by top Leyland officials. They gave warning that there must be redundancies among the 170,000 workforce if the company is to stay profitable, particularly in the Austin-Morris division-because of a sales slump.
“Thev would not guarantee there would be no compulsory redundancies,” said Mr Bob Wright, an engineering union executive member. But we would never agree to it if they suggested that.”
Leyland officials revealed they had already stopped recruiting, apart from certain key workers, and they hoped to make the cuts voluntary redundancy, natural wastage and early retirements.
“Already 1,000 workers have been sacked in Australia “, Mr Wright said.
“And they’re cutting down overseas operations generally.”
Heads of all BLMC plants have been ordered to start drawing up plans for manpower cuts. Company executives yesterday spelled out the gloomy prospects ahead. They expect to sell half a million cars fewer this year than last, a 30 per cent drop and part of a general world slump in sales. It has been accepted for some time that the corporation’s £500m. investment programme is now being phased over seven years instead of the five originally envisaged. British Leyland has some 174,000 employees in the United Kingdom.
Trouble at Triumph
Eight thousand Triumph production workers at Coventry went back to work yesterday after being laid off on Thursday. but they were sent home again a few hours later. Two hundred clerical staff were continuing an overtime ban and a work-to rule over a claim for threshold payments. They refused to do vital paper work covering the dispatch of cars from the finishing line.
The management has said it cannot afford threshold payments because they would put £40m on British Leyland’s wages bill. Triumph’s production troubles have continued most of the week, with different groups staging token stoppages over threshold claims.
“What we have tried to do is to review the present situation in British Leyland, and the automotive industry generally, to try to get a right perspective. We are not in a position to say that redundancies will not be called for, but, clearly, if there are other measures we can take we shall want to take them…. We are looking for whatever is not absolutely essential .”