Production of British Leyland’s new Morris Marina was at a standstill last night following a strike by 80 maintenance fitters and their mates at the group’s Cowley, Oxford, plant. A further 1,700 assembly workers have been laid off. The best-selling 1100/1300 line was also stopped. The only model being produced was the Maxi.
The interruption to Marina production could hardly have come at a worse time. Since it was launched three weeks ago demand has broken all records and every effort has been made to increase production to prevent potential customers being put off by long, delivery dates. The fitters stopped work over a recruiting dispute. Last night British Leyland said there was no justification for the strike since it was only seeking to apply the terms of a freely negotiated agreement.
In January it signed a pay deal with the Amalgamated Engineering Workers giving them a wage increase in return for an undertaking not to insist on recruiting of fitters’ mates. The company gave a warning that if agreements were to be broken arbitrarily in this way it would have detrimental effects on the company, the trade unions and industrial relations generally.
The fitters are due to meet again tomorrow.