By Clifford Webb
Another 2,000 British Leyland car workers were laid off yesterday by the crippling effects of the British Road Services drivers’ pay dispute. Nearly 15,000 have now been made idle at 10 plants by the withdrawal of lorries taking components to the factories.
A row is threatening over the amount of lay-off pay being received by the 5,000 men laid off at’ Austin-Morris, Longbridge. Under the terms of the new wage agreement concluded in November the men are entitled to 80 per cent of earnings when unable to work because of an outside dispute. This is paid for seven days in any three month period except in the case of a dispute involving “coal, gas, water and other utilities”.
It is then paid for only five days. Management at Longbridge has initerpreted BRS’s standing as that of a utility, and is restricting payment to five days , a view challenged by the unions. To date the Longbridge men have received 10 days! pay because last week came at the end of the agreement’s first quarter and this week is the first of a new quarter, but next week their wages will fall from £36 to £22 as lay-off pay is replaced by the engineering industry’s guaranteed standby rate.
Car production stopped altogether at Triumph, Coventry, yesterday after limping along for over a week. Another 1,500 men were laid off, making 3,000 idle in the works as a whole. A further 350 were laid off at Austin-Morris, Cowley and Castle Bromwich.
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