By CLIFFORD WEBB
Midland Industrial Correspondent
Assembly lines at three British Leyland plants were not working yesterday because of strikes that have caused nearly 6,000 men to be laid off in the industry. Most of the trouble was caused by the week-old drivers’ strike at Howard Tenens, a Swindon transport company that ferries body panels from Pressed Steel Fisher factories to Austin Morris assembly plants.
All production of 1100-1300 models has been at a standstill at Cowley and Longbridge since Thursday and yesterday the number of men laid off was 2250. A further 400 have been laid off on the Maxi assembly line at Cowley. where production is at a standstill because of the Pilkington strike. About 1400 were laid off at Pressed Steel Fisher factories at Swindon, Castle Bromwich and Cowley because of the Pilkington and transport strikes.
The Pressed Steel Fisher situation is further complicated by the unusual claim for 12 years’ underpayment by 500 tool room workers at Castle Bromwich. Shop stewards said last night that it could cost the company as much at £1500 for each man. The men who are working to rule and banning overtime, said management has miscalculated earnings. Employers broke off talks with the men until they withdraw their ban.
The miscalculation claim was raised during negotiations for a wage increase. Rover said yesterday it hopes to be able to recall the 1,100 Land-Rover workers idle for the past 10 days. About 300 men sent home last Thursday because of the Pilkington strike will resume work on the 3.5 litre saloon today.
However, Rover was hit by a new strike yesterday. Production of the 2000 model was stopped, and 400 men were sent home. Twenty-two rectification workers walked out when management refused to grant them an immediate meeting to discuss a pay grievance.