More than 6,100 car workers at Cowley are now idle because of a strike by 147 skilled workers at the Austin-Morris car assembly plant at Cowley. Discussions which were to have taken place between British Leyland’s labour relations director, Mr Pat Lowry, and engineering union executives about the Cowley dispute were cancelled at the last minute when union officials said they were “not available”.
The men meet again on Mondav when union officials will probably report on peace moves expected to be made by both sides at York later this week. The skilled workers seek an increase to bring their earnings up to the new level of the works electricians, who now get £40.60 for a 40-hour week. The other craftsmen have been told that they can have the same rates of pay providing they accept the conditions which, the electricians have agreed to.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the transport workers and the engineers said: “We cannot accept a position in which an agreement with 70 electricians imposes conditions on 150 other craftsmen. This is intolerable to the other unions.”
The effect of the stoppage spread to the car body plant where 700 men on the Marina line were laid off for the first time since production of the body shell began. At the assembly plant 5400 have been laid off indefinitely.