24,000 idle as disputes plague Leyland plants
By R. W. Shakespeare Northern Industrial Correspondent
Total lay-offs at British Leyland plants rose yesterday to more than 24,000 as a result of disputes among components suppliers in which about 3,000 other workers are idle. Short time working and internal labour troubles in the corporation’s own plants have exacerbated the situation. Production of seven different car ranges is at a standstill.
Although a big proportion of the Leyland workers are due back at work today, a company spokesman gave warning last night that component shortages are now threatening almost all the car assembly operations and fresh lay-offs can be expected. As a direct result of this shutdown, 7,100 British Leyland workers at Birmingham, Cowley, Castle Bromwich and Coventry have had to be laid off indefinitely. Production of Mini, Allegro, Maxi and Triumph TR6 cars has had to be stopped.
A second dispute at another components supplier, Coventry Motor Fittings, has stopped supplies of radiators for British Leyland’s Triumph Stag cars. Output of these also came to a halt yesterday. Within British Leyland itself, short-time working at Cowley and Coventry meant that Marina and Jaguar production was also halted, with 7,800 workers directly involved. However, at Cowley 2,700 indirect workers were continuing their strike in protest against the managements decision to lay off 150 of them in conjunction with the Marina shutdown.
This in turn meant that there was no work for a further 3,000 men in the body production departments, and output of the recently-launched 18/22 car range was also at a standstill. Another 1,700 British Leyland workers were also laid off yesterday because of short time working at the Coventry engines and Drews Lane, Birmingham transmissions plants.