By Clifford Webb
About 600 assembly workers at Leyland’s light van factory in Birmingham were sent home yesterday and told not to return for one week because of their “abysmally low production.”
This tough action by the management is the latest development in a battle which has already resulted in the 600 being sent home for half-days during the past two months. Management claim the workers have consistently failed to meet their production targets despite repeated warnings and protracted negotiations with shop stewards.
Last night a spokesman for Leyland Cars confirmed that the men were sent home before lunchtime for poor performance, but declined to give details. The men claim that assembly line breakdowns and component shortages are the real cause of the poor output. Management prevented the men from carrying out a threatened “work-in” by disconnecting all power supplies; but the workers then blockaded the factory gates refusing to allow vehicles to enter or leave.
This is only one of a number of plants which are coming under pressure from Mr Derek Whittaker, managing director of Leyland Cars, to improve productivity. He has warned employees at Longbridge,the biggest manufacturing complex in the company,that unless they reduce the 43 production hours required to complete a car then they face a more severe redundancy programme. Two years ago they were completing cars in only 40 hours.
At present Mr Whittaker is seeking a cut of 10,000 jobs, but only 1,000 of them are at Longbridge.