By R. W. Shakespeare
After losing £5m worth of production over the past week British Leyland has conceded a £1 a week wage increase to seven men whose strike stopped all output at the company’s two largest car assembly plants, seriously disrupted another and made more than 7,000 workers idle. Even now it may be well into next week before full car production is restored.
The trouble concerned a claim for regrading by the seven internal drivers at the Leyland-owned components factory of Oxford Radiators. At first the company resisted their demand, claiming that it could not deal with it in isolation and that in any event it probably contravened the Government’s pay policy. However, yesterday the drivers were back at work having won their increase for £1 a week which goes with a move to a higher grade and gives them a new basic wage of £50.80 a week. The company has clearly come round to the view that it can justify the move by slightly rearranging the ” job content ‘ of the drivers’ work.
This would enable the increase to. pass the criteria of the Government’s wages policy. It was, however, a decision which at first looked like sparking off further trouble with fork-lift, truck drivers at the Oxford Radiators plant, but this was cleared up at meetings yesterday. As a result of the drivers’ acceptance of the company’s offer 500 other workers at Oxford Radiators who had been laid off were back at work yesterday. But the effects on the car assembly plants continued.
At Cowley, Oxford, where all Princess, Marina and Maxi car production was stopped with 1,780 workers laid off, output will be resumed on the night shift tonight and there will be a phased recall of the remaining workers. At Longbridge, Birmingham another 5,000 workers have had to be laid off this week and all production of Maxi and Allegro cars was stopped. There will also be a phased recall of these men and production will be resumed, it is hoped, by Monday.