Archive : Prospect of settlement in Longbridge dispute as more are laid off

By R. W. Shakespeare

Labour disputes, which have cost British Leyland some £8m. worth in lost car production over the past eight days, again stopped output of Marina and Mini cars at Cowley and Birmingham yesterday. More than 9,000 car and components workers are idle at Oxford and in the Midlands and seem likely to remain so until at least the end of this week.

By then, production losses will be about £12m. However, there is some prospect of a settlement of the trouble that has led to the shut-down at Longbridge. This began on Monday following a strike by 380 workers and the layoff of another 460 at the British Leyland-owned SU Carburetter factory at Birmingham. The dispute is over a pay claim which ended in deadlock at plant level negotiations. Yesterday, there were some indications that union officials may now recommend a return to work pending further talks.

This could lead to a reopening of the Mini assembly lines at Longbridge, which had run out of carburetters on Monday morning and the recall of more than 2500 car workers who were laid off . At Cowley, the 2,400 assembly- line workers who are on strike, with another 4,000 laid off-are due to meet again today.

They will be voting on whether or not to continue their stoppage which is in protest against the management’s plans to re- arrange working schedules including reducing manning scales and changing line speeds, to achieve greater productivity. The walkout on Tuesday of last week came when industrial engineers were employed to make studies on the assembly lines. There have been no fresh talks since the strikers met on Tuesday when they voted to continue their action. But since then more workers have had to be sent home.

Keith Adams

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