By R. W. SHAKESPEARE
Labour troubles in the car industry showed no signs of easing yesterday. For the second successive day there was no production of 1800 models at British Leyland’s Austin-Morris division plant at Longbridge. And talks between the management and shop floor representatives produced no settlements in two separate strikes that threatened to bring all vehicle production there to a standstill. The talks continue today.
Yesterday also brought news of two other disputes in vehicle component firms, at the British Leyland owned Pressed Steel Fisher car body factory at Oxford and at the Ferodo brake linings factory at Chapel-en-le- Frith, Derbyshire. The standstill on the 1800 assembly line at Longbridge is caused by a strike of 270 men in the paint shop, over a manning dispute, which started on Tuesday morning. For the moment men who normally work on this assembly line have been found jobs elsewhere in the plant, but there is a mounting threat to production of the three other models made at Longbridge, Minis, 1100s and 1300s.
This results from a strike by 120 tool setters in the engines plant who are disputing the management’s decision not to replace a man who has retired. Yesterday 600 of these men were brought in on the day shift to assemble engine components that had already been made, but there was no work for the remaining 600 on the night shift. Last night there were doubts that any work could be carried on in the engines plant today. It is the tool setters’ dispute that is causing the management the most concern.
It could cut off supplies of engines and stop all car assembly. It also strikes at the heart of the company’s policy of reducing manning scales through “natural wastage”.
At the Pressed Steel Fisher factory clerical workers have, announced that they intend to strike each Friday, pay day for 6,000 manual workers, and impose a work to rule and overtime ban in support of their claim for a pay increase.