Lord Stokes, chairman of British Leyland, yesterday gave a warning to the group’s 180,000 employees that Japanese car makers: deprived of some of their sales in the United States by the 10 per cent import charge, would make a concentrated attack on Europe.
“They are going to have a go at Europe and this country. They must all laugh like drains when they see us going on strike because they have the opportunity to sell more to our domestic customers”. he said in an article prominently displayed in all the group’s internal newspapers. With two strikes in progress in the key Austin-Morris division, Lord Stokes again emphasized the need for all out production to enable British Leyland to benefit from the present boom in car sales.
“People will not wait. They have got money in their pockets to meet the pent-up demand which has been released by the July measures for whatever is in the shops. We are finding overseas particularly that people will not wait for cars, and if distributors cannot get them from us they will seek other suppliers.”
Several hundred employees at the Austin-Morris van body plant in Common Lane, Birmingham. yesterday continued the “sit-in” which has halted production for the past two days. They arc protesting at Lord Stokes’s refusal to meet their shop stewards to discuss preliminary redundancy notices served on 900 workmates last Friday. A five-day-old strike by 120 engine assemblers at Longbridge has stopped production of engines for Austin-Morris 1800 and MGB cars.
Final assembly is continuing with engines from stock, but a company spokesman said last night: “This can only be a temporary measure and cannot continue for much longer. We have already had to redeploy 100 MGB workers at Abingdon, to avoid lay-offs.'”