By CLIFFORD WEBB,
Midlands Industrial Correspondent
British Leyland’s labour troubles see-sawed yesterday. first with the ending of the Midland delivery drivers’ strike which has paralysed Standard-Triumph, and later with the unexpected introduction of short-time working at Jaguar. The 1,200 men laid off at Standard-Triumph will be recalled on Monday, but British Leyland still have about 7,000 men idle at other plants and 2000 assembly workers are affected at Jaguar.
The Jaguar move is surprisingly due to record demand, particularly for the new XJ6. Since the five-week strike at Leyland earlier this year. the foundries there have not been able to keep pace with Jaguar’s booming production, leading to a shortage of cylinder blocks. The 2,000 assembly men begin a four-day week with Monday’s nightshift. Settlement in the delivery drivers’ dispute yesterday followed several days of talks between the Transport and General Workers’ Union and Progressive Deliveries.
The 50 drivers walked out over the transfer of work from their depot at Nuneaton to Rugby. Today strike pickets at the Coventry factory will be called off and drivers will begin moving the thousands of new cars which choked the plant to a standstill. But there was no improvement at the group’s big assembly plant at Cowley where all production has been at a standstill since midday on Thursday and 5,000 are idle.
The stoppage is partly due to a go-slow at the adjoining works of Pressed Steel Fisher, which supplies bodies for the Austin Maxi, and partly to an internal strike by 200 men on the 1100/1300 line over the transfer of a worker. About 1,500 men have been laid off at P.S.F. plants at Cowley, Coventry and Swindon as a result of a strike at Longbridge, where 1,100 are laid off on the Mini line, and the dispute involving maintenance fitters at the British Road Services depot at Oxford which ferries bodies to Midland car plants. Production of bodies for the MGB sports car at Coventry ceased and 700 workers there have been laid off.
Assembly of the car at the M.G. works at Abingdon was also stopped and another 100 men sent home. Production of bodies for the Hillman estate car and the Rover 2000 saloon was also affected. The B.R.S. dispute which is already biting deep into car production at British Leyland could well spread to include Rootes.
Meetings are due to take place tomorrow and Monday between T. & G.W.U. officials and the B.R.S. drivers who are threatening to stop all deliveries unless the demand of the 50 fitters over a bonus claim is met by Monday. Last night it was estimated in the industry that a further 5,000 assembly workers would be affected within a matter of days if this happens.