Short-time working in the car industry has spread to the British Motor Corporation factories and to the Rover Company at Solihull. The B.M.C. announced yesterday that from Monday they are putting 23,500 workers on short time. Rovers said that for the time being they would be operating a four-day week for 1,000 workers on car assembly lines. Land Rover production was continuing normally. B.M.C. production is being cut by 12-5 per cent-2,000 fewer vehicles a week-but production will still be higher than it was 12 months ago.
The company blamed an easing off in demand, caused mainly by ” a general pause” in world trade, a partial return to seasonal trading, hire purchase restrictions, and the coincidence of those restrictions with expanding production in the motor industry generally. Every effort was being made to keep intact that experienced labour force on whose skill the corporation relied.
Production of some models, including the Austin Seven, the Morris Mini- Minor, and all heavy commercial vehicles, was, in fact, being increased, but there had been a ” flatterning out” in the demand for 1-5 litre models and the bigger cars.
A corporation spokesman said last night : ” It is anybody’s guess how long these difficulties will last. We hope there will not be any redundancies , and our great aim is to keep everybody employed .”
Although 38,000 workers in the B.M.C. would continue on a five-day week, 20,000 would go on to a four-day week and 3,500 on to a three-day week. There was no question of slowing down the £49m. expansion plan announced earlier this year and aimed at stepping up production to one million vehicles a year in two years’ time.
Eight hundred men were laid off at the Birmingham car factory of Morris Commercial yesterday after a strike of 146 vehicle inspection viewers. The men stopped work in support of a claim for a wage increase, and at a meeting voted to continue the stoppage.