By Christopher Thomas Labour Staff
British Leyland shop stewards were told last night that the company must increase its car output by 25 per cent within Six months-in order to survive, and that there must he an end to ” unnecessary” disputes.”
The message was given to a meeting of shop stewards in Oxford by Mr Bob Wright, an executive member of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering workers and a leading union spokesman on the motor industry. Earlier yesterday Mr Wright was among union leaders who met Leyland management at the Earls Court motor show for an up-to-date report of the car section’s critical situation.
The company said that estimates for car production next financial year were up by about 200,000 on this year’s figure of 1,000 ,000, which is attributed to the aggressive marketing campaign to push back imported cars. The two sides were mutually blunt. The white-collar Association of Professional. Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff (Apex) announced that it was restricting further voluntary redundancies until it received more information about the company’s plans.
Management spokesmen said that compulsory redundancies were becoming increasingly inevitable. Mr Ray Edwards, assistant general secretary of Apex, said after the talks: “We believe our move will slow down the major re-organization taking place in the company. We are withdrawing co-operation in the centralization of the finance and purchasing functions until there have been effective national discussions.”
Unions and management will meet again in December. By the end of next month, worker participation machinery is expected to be operating, giving the Unions a bigger say in policy. Meanwhile, discussions are going on at plant level on how to reduce the 116,000 workforce in Leyland Cars, which has already been trimmed by 21,000 through voluntary redundancies and natural wastage.