Up to 20,000 Austin-Morris employees could be laid off by a strike of 120 drivers at the car assembly plant at Cowley, Oxford, the company gave warning yesterday. The men decided by a 2-1 majority, after giving seven days warning, to go ahead with their strike over a claim for special payments for driving heavy goods vehicles.
By midday 2,500 workers had been laid off from the assembly plant where production of the Maxi and 1100 range came to a standstill. A company spokesman said that by Friday morning the number laid off would exceed 6,000. He said there would be repercussions outside the Cowley car complex where most of the lay-offs will occur.
The drivers who gained over £3 a week rise earlier this month are seeking a further rise, but the company says they are now getting £2.80 a week more than the firm’s van drivers. The hgv drivers get £40.60 for a 40 hour week. In the factory’s wage grading structure they are classed as skilled workers.
There have been troubles also at the Austin-Morris factory at Longbridge. Birmingham. Two hundred crankshaft machinists walked out yesterday in a dispute over the pricing of work and another 1350 employees were laid off. Production of engines for the Mini, 1100 and Marina 1.3 models was stopped, with 500 engine assemblers laid off, and production of the Mini was cut back, with another 850 workers idle. The strikers are not due to meet again until next Thursday, so that the laid-off workers will have an extended spring bank holiday. The factory closes tonight until next Wednesday.
The workers already laid-off have been told not to report again until further notice and a British Leyland spokesman said that more lay-offs are likely today.