By CLIFFORD WEBB,
Midland Industrial Correspondent
British Leyland yesterday completed the first stage in its plan to convert Austin-Morris car plants from piecework to a more simplified pay structure. After eight months of negotiation, punctuated by strikes, 3,500 hourly paid manual workers at Cowley accepted the company’s latest offer of increases varying from £2 to £5 a week.
The new minimum will now be £25 for a 40-hour week. The highest grades will receive £33 a week. In return, the men have agreed to a four-level system of grading and the end of group incentive payments. The latter were based on the average earnings of the higher paid piece workers who man the assembly lines. The way is now clear for the next step, measured day work for the pieceworkers. Cowley is being re-equipped and expanded to increase its capacity from 8,000 cars a week to 10,000.
It will then be on a par with British Leyland’s biggest car plant, Longbridge. The company said yesterday that the new pay agreement would enable production to be increased without recruiting additional labour. Work was back to normal at Cowley yesterday after Monday’s strike by 16 pieceworkers which resulted in another 820 being laid off. But the nearby service division headquarters is threatened by a strike of 600 members of the Clerical and Administrative Workers’ Union.
They walked out yesterday claiming that 60 of their colleagues had been locked out. A company spokesman said the 60 had turned up for work for the past few days but had refused to carry out any duties because another 30 employees were not members of their union.
They were told to work or go home.