By R. W. Shakespeare
Car workers at British Leyland’s Austin/Morris plant at Cowley, Oxford, have been warned that production of a new medium-range car will not go ahead until agreement is reached about a new pay system and the abolition of piece-work. The warning came in a statement circulated to shop stewards at the plant yesterday.
It said: “The company cannot envisage starting work on the new model while there is a serious difference of opinion between the company and shop stewards.” Shop stewards at the plant have rejected the management’s plans to end piecework on the new model. There is now a concerted campaign by shop floor representatives throughout the Austin/Morris division against the proposed pay structure.
A further meeting yesterday between the management and.union representatives at the car body works at Cowley. where a pay structure involving the abolition of piecework has also been proposed resulted in failure to agree. Shop stewards there have also rejected the management’s terms and their proposals for the retention of piecework have been turned down. Similar proposals for a new wages structure have been made by the British Leyland management at the Pressed Steel Fisher car body works at Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, which turns out bodies for the Austin/Morris range.
These, too, have been rejected by the shop floor. British Leyland has chosen the new Cowley model as the first battleground. The controversy over the new pay proposals, both at Cowley and Castle Bromwich. are now being taken through the engineering industry disputes procedure. Probably they will end up at the industry’s central conference in York and it is likely there will be a “failure to agree” there.
This will bring the conflict out into the open between national union leaders and the British Leyland management