Triumph Motors accused employees at their Liverpool plant last night of breaking an agreement to move from job to job to enable the company to cope with an abnormally high level of absenteeism.
Production of all Triumph cars except the GT6 and Spitfire is now at a standstill with 4,650 workers laid off at Liverpool and Coventry. More than 16,000 car workers were laid off or on strike last night because of disputes affecting British Leyland and Chrysler factories. A Triumph spokesman said last night: “The absenteeism rate in Liverpool is such that an effective mobiiity arrangement is absolutely vital to the running of the plants. In this dispute the toolmen who were dismissed refused to comply with a mobility agreement and were asked on three occasions to reconsider their decision.
“They declined and therefore the situation clearly warranted disciplinary action. The absentee rate in Liverpool is more than double that of any other Triumph plant. If mobility of labour is not maintained, and it is implicit in the agreement with the unions, the productivity of the company will be reduced to such a level that the smooth running of the plant will be disrupted and the jobs of thousands put into jeopardy.”
At a mass meeting yesterday the. 650 workers who walked out last week demanding the reinstatement of the toolmen voted to stay out. Triumph is the only loss making member of British Leyland’s specialist car division. The other members, Rover and Jaguar, have both had record years. At British Leyland in Bathgate, West Lothian 3,500 have been out since Friday. Both groups of strikers are demanding an £8 a week increase to give them parity with Midland car plants. Production is at a standstill at both plants.
Jaguar, Coventry, is similarly paralysed by a strike of 108 engine workers which is now in its second week. A further 2.500 are laid off. The Jaguar strikers are due to meet again tomorrow.