By CLIFFORD WEBB,
Midland Industrial Correspondent
Nearly 9,000 British Leyland workers were idle last night as a result of strikes at the group’s plants at Longbridge, Cowley, Coventry, and Abingdon, and’ at Pressed Steel Fisher body plants at Cowley and Swindon.
Amid scenes of confusion thousands of workers walked out at Cowley yesterday afternoon after sitting around for hours waiting for work. At British Levland, Cowley, the group’s second biggest car assembly plant, the situation changed almost hourly. The day began with 760 men on the Austin Maxi day and night shifts being laid off because of a shortage of bodies caused by the week old go slow at the adjoining works of Pressed Steel Fisher.
Soon afterwards men in one of the body shops at the Cowley car plant walked out following a dispute over one man’s job allocation. About 1,500 men were then sent home. stopping all production of the group’s best selling 1100-1300 models. Several thousand workers normally engaged on keeping the assembly lines stocked later walked out because they had nothing to do. They said there was complete confusion inside the factory with groups of men milling about trying to find out what was happening. Last night it was estimated that in all, 5,000 men had been laid off or walked out on their own accord during the day.
Rootes and Rover car production will also be affected if a British Road Services delivery dispute is extended cutting them off from Cowley body supplies.
At Standard Triumph, Coventry, 1200 men were laid off and production of all models, except the TR6 sports car. halted by another delivery drivers’ dispute. No cars have left the plant for over a week. The jobs of several thousand more workers are now in danger. A conciliation officer from the Department of Emplovment and Productivity is at present in Coventry attempting to bring the two sides in the delivery strike- the Transport and General Workers’ Union and the management of Progressive Deliveries, to a meeting.
Also in Coventry 600 men at a Pressed Steel Fisher factory were sent home because of an extension of the British Road Services dispute which is affecting the delivery of bodies to several car plants. Supplies have been almost cut to the M.G. works at Abingdon and 100 assembly line workers were laid off yesterday.
About 400 men were also laid off at Pressed Steel Fisher, Swindon. and a fourth P.S.F. plant, Castle Bromwich, near Birmingham, will probably begin laying off men employed on the mini body line today. This follows the three day-old strike of 200 assemblers at Longbridge which has reduced production of this model to a trickle. Talks to find a peace formula at Longbridge were adjourned last night after 10 hours, and will resume today.