ON THE DAY British Leyland’s cash- crisis came to a head, 4,000 workers at the firm’s Cowley plant demanded a £16-a-week rise. The claim , which would give them £67 a week- even outstripped the recommendations of their shop stewards. And Leyland’s cash crisis was not even discussed at yesterdays meeting.
One man who supported the claim said afterwards: “If the Government are going to subsidise the firm, our money can come out of that.”
But another worker said: “This claim is out of all proportion. But there are too many militants among us to allow us to back down. They see this as a means of forcing the Government to take over British Leyland completely.”‘
And there was more militancy from the picket line at the firm’s Triumph factory in Coventry, closed for two weeks by a strike. Said finisher Bill Holder: “I would sooner see the firm go under and the Government take over than the men give in. It’s a fight to the finish.”
Not one car has come off the Triumph assembly lines since November 8. First the clerks in the control room went on strike. Then 1,000 track workers walked out – they demanded to, be paid for the time lost in lay – offs because of the clerks’ strike.
This second strike has been the more damaging. Described as a catastrophe for the firm and for Britain, it has grounded Leyland’s latest export winner-the Triumph Spitfire 1500 two-seater sports unveiled only this week; and it has laid off thousands more workers in Coventry and Liverpool.
A senior company official warned the men yesterday that lost sales might mean fewer jobs.