By Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent
British Leyland’s biggest car plant, the Austin-Morris complex at Longbridge, Birmingham, was again at a standstill yesterday with 7,500 men laid off, almost half of them on the night shift. The trouble this time stems from a series of one-day strikes by about 200 maintenance workers in dispute over a recent pay award.
A further 600 men have been laid off at the group’s Castle Bromwich factory, which supplies bodies for the mini and 1100/1300 models. The maintenance men have been waging one-day strikes for the past two months in support of a series of claims. the latest for back pay increases similar to those given to electricians. The company disputes their right to back pay because they did not agree to participate in a job evaluation exercise until some months after the electricians.
Yesterday their campaign took a new turn. In the past they have restricted strikes to 24 hours’ duration. They walked out on Friday and in the expectation that they would return yesterday 2,550 assembly workers laid off were asked to report for work yesterday morning.
A company spokesman said: “They have all been sent home again with the addition of another 1,500. We have no idea when they will be recalled. It all depends on the maintenance men.”