By R. W. .Shakespeare
All car production at British Leyland’s Austin Morris plant at Cowley, Oxford, was stopped yesterday and more than 11,000 workers made idle. Most serious casualty of the strike is the newly-launched 18/22 range, on which British Leyland has pinned a key part of its survival strategy. It is unlikely that any cars will be produced before next Tuesday, and even this is doubtful because the management may face fresh trouble over demands for lay-off pay from some of the workers sent home.
The latest trouble at Cowley stems from a management decision to curtail production of the Marina range by introducing a four-day working week in some areas of the plant. Yesterdav was the first day that the Marina lines were closed, with 1,600 production workers laid off. The dispute arose when the management decided that another 150 “indirect” workers who service the production lines-would also have to be sent home because there was no work for them.
Transport and General Workers’ Union shop stewards then called out all of the 2,700 indirect workers in the plant, telling the management they intended to operate a policy of ” one out. all out “. As a result another 3,300 Cowlev workers had to be laid off and all production halted. More trouble is threatened on Tuesday when shop stewards are almost certain to demand payment for time lost in the case of all workers sent home in spite of the fact that there is a union agreement with the management which suspends layoff-pay’ when stoppages are caused by internal disputes.