By Geoffrey Whiteley
British Leyland’s most troublesome strike for some time – a seven week-old dispute at its Hemel Hempstead components factory ~ has now made nearly 16,000 workers idle and more may be laid off by the end of this week unless the stoppage ends. The strike is by 800 workers who want a £10-a-week interim pay increase.
British Leyland says it will not negotiate on pay and conditions until the workers present agreement ends at the end of September. After a narrow vote, last week, in favour of continuing the stoppage, British Leyland opened the factory for work on Monday, but fewer than a dozen workers turned up. Everything now depends on the vote to be taken at a meeting tomorrow.
Meanwhile, nearly 10,000 British Leyland workers are idle in Coventry alone, at plants of the Jaguar and Triumph division’s. Another 3,200 are laid off at Triumph plants on Merseyside, 1,450 at Cowley and nearly 1,200 at other BLMC plants in the Midlands. The Hemel Hempstead factory supplies axles and suspension units to British Leyland plants.
The strikers have said that if they cannot have an immediate wage increase , they would consider a guarantee from the management that they could have an extra £6 a week when their present pay agreement is renegotiated. British Leyland’s difficulty at the moment, is that it cannot negotiate, officially, with the strikers , since the stoppage is entirely unofficial. Talks held so far with shop stewards have failed to produce any advance in the dispute.