By CLIFFORD WEBB
British Leyland is considering the introduction of short time working at the Austin-Morris assembly plant at Longbridge, Birmingham. This is the biggest single manufacturing unit in the group, empioying nearly 26,000 men and women. The company confirmed last night that talks were taking place with the unions at factory level, but insisted that no firm decisions had been made.
A spokesman said: “Difficulties have arisen in the engine and gearbox sections at Longbridge. The introduction of new models in the Mini range and the 1300 GT has caused some imbalance between the number of bodies available and engine production. Production schedules have been changed to rectify this. If short time working is introduced it will be restricted to engine production and will be a purely temporary measure.”
Mini production has been reduced in recent weeks by disputes on piece work rates after the introduction of modifications to the range. Workers leaving the East works at Longbridge which employs about 3,500 and produces most of the engines and gearboxes for Austin-Morris cars up to 1300cc said they expected four-day working to be introduced before the end of next week.
They talked of large stocks of engines which had built up. British Leyland production is already suffering from unofficial strikes. Yesterday 1,230 men were laid off at Austin-Morris, Cowley, and Pressed Steel Fisher body plants. Worst hit was the Maxi final assembly line at Cowley, where production was halted and 600 men sent home after a strike by 50 sub-assembly workers.