By R. W. Shakespeare
British Leyland car production is threatened again by an unofficial strike-of engine assembly workers at the company’s Austin-Morris plant at Longbridge, Birmingham. Output of engines for the Mini and medium range models was disrupted yesterday and the management gave a warning that there could be lay-offs among other engine plant and car assembly workers if the strike goes on.
The trouble, over manning scales, began on Thursday when 260 men in the engine assembly shop decided to stop work for 20 minutes in each hour. This action continued throughout the day and night shifts and on Friday. The management threatened to stop all car assembly work unless normal working was resumed. The men involved in the dispute then walked out. Yesterday they failed to report for work. Although some operations in the engine shop continued, output of completed engines was restricted.
At British Leyland’s Austin Morris plant at Cowley, the threat of a further standstill , less than a week after the six week shutdown resulting from a strike by assembly workers, has been averted for the moment. The 170 paint shop men who walked out on Friday over a pay dispute have agreed to return to work while union representatives take the dispute through procedure. Production of the Austin Maxi at Cowley could be hit by a shortage of engines which are made at Longbridge.
A strike involving inspectors in one department caused the layoff of 950 employees at the British Leyland factory in Bathgate, West Lothian. yesterday. About 40 inspectors went home after they held a meeting to discuss the suspension of two workmates. Truck and tractor production was affected.