By Clifford Webb Midlands Industrial Correspondent
British Leyland workers ignored the call in such numbers that delighted factory managers abandoned plans to count those who reported. Instead they counted those staying away and found that fewer than 4,000 of the group’s 140,000-United Kingdom labour force were absent.
Production was halted at only one plant. Most of the 2000 manual workers stayed away from Albion Glasgow, which produces truck components for Leyland Vehicles. Absenteeism was reported to be ” higher than normal ” at Cowley car assembly, Castle Bromwich body plant, SU Carburetters, Birmingham, Speke body plant, Liverpool, and the bus factory at Workington. Unofficial estimates suggest that 80 per cent of employees turned up at those four plants, enabling production to continue with varying difficulties. Many workers had made arrangements to “pool” their cars.
At Longbridge, the group’s biggest car plant, the militant shop stewards committee’s call for a big demonstration was a dismal failure. Only 100 turned up for a mass meeting on an adjoining park. Shop stewards had forecast 10,000. BL said last night: “We are delighted with the superb turnout today. We have lost very little production thanks to the responsible attitude shown by our employees.”