Four stop work over inch of rainwater and 1,200 laid off
By Clifford Webb Midlands Industrial Correspondent
Four men who objected to walking through an inch of floodwater at British Leyland’s car plant at Cowley, Oxfordshire, yesterday stopped production of the Morris Marina and led to 1,200 assembly workers being laid off. Work resumed on the night shift. Four drivers employed to ferry Marinas from the twin assembly lines to outdoor parking spaces walked out, followed by 24 others.
A company official said: “Very heavy rain overloaded drains and led to some flooding. Men were put to work sweeping the water away but the drivers refused to carry on.”
The strike by 130 women sewing machinists at Austin-Morris, Longbridge, Birmingham, entered its second week yesterday with nearly 4,000 workers laid off. Production of 1800 models is still halted and Mini output has been cut to a trickle by the shortage of upholstery and interior trim.
Mr Moss Evans, national official of the Transport and General Workers Union with special responsibility for the motor industry, met British Leyland shop stewards in Birmingham yesterday. Afterwards he announced that at a private meeting the shop stewards had voted overwhelmingly in favour of opening negotiations with the company on its proposed changes to the system of payment which led to the strike.
This vote represents a significant breakthrough by British Leyland in its attempts to replace piecework by a flat day rate at its biggest plant Until now the shop stewards have refused,to discuss any move to replace pieceworking. The strike is at present dead- locked on the issue.