Archive : Triumph car output disrupted by strike over time needed to change into overalls

By R. W. Shakespeare

British Leyland ran into fresh labour trouble at its Triumph car plant at Coventry yesterday This came on the eve of a crucial meeting which the corporation hopes may lead to a settlement of a dispute which has stopped all car producation and made more than 12,000 workers idle at the Austin-Morris factories at Cowley, Oxford.

At the Triumph factory 260 workers had to be sent home and production of a number of models, including GT6, Spit- fires and 1500 cars, was disrupted because of a strike by 38 paint shop workers. The disagreement is over the amount of  “divestment time”, used for changing from street clothes in to overalls, which the painters are allowed before they start work. They want half an hour “off the clock”, which means they would clock on for their shift half an hour later but still get paid for this time, and the company has offered them 15 minutes after clocking on.

The strikers will hold a meeting tomorrow. The dispute at the Coventry plant comes at a difficult moment for British Leyland. The management believes it is on tie brink of concluding a new wage deal in the Triumph division in line with BLMC’s overall strategy of ending pieceworking in favour of a new graded wage structure. Voting on a new wage deal is also taking place among about 9,000 “indirect “non assembly line-workers at BLMC’s Longbridge, Birmingham, car plant.

The 10,000 assembly line workers there have already gone over to the new wage system. If British Leyland can now get these deals through in Triumph and at Birmingham it will have succeeded in eliminating the troublesome piecework system in almost all of its volume car production centres.

Keith Adams

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