Production of British Leyland’s Austin Morris 1800 cars and light vans was at a standstill last night becaluse of strikes at two of the group’s Birmingham factories. Nearly 4,000 workers were idle. All 2,300 employees at the Common Lane van body plant answered a shop stewards’ call to walk out in protest at management refusal to withdraw the preliminary redundancy notices served on 900 of them last Friday.
Their action followed two days of sit-ins and more than five hours of talks with management. The company offered to suspend the notices for several weeks if the workers returned and dropped their overtime ban, but the shop stewards insisted that the notices be withdrawn. They claimed management had breached an agreement concluded in May that provided for joint discussions on manning levels and the transfer of labour.
The company said the redundancies were foreshadowed eight months ago, before the agreement was signed. Shop stewards met today but the men were not expected to meet before Monday. Meanwhile, the week-old strike by 120 engine assemblers at Longbridge led to a further 1000 assembly workers’ being sent home. Production of MGB sports cars, which share the 1800 ‘s engine, has been halved and is expected to stop shortly.
Members of four craft unions at Leyland’s Cowley car body plant have reimposed, against the advice of national officials, an overtime ban and other sanctions after hearing details of the management’s latest pay offer. More talks between management and union officials are due next week. The sanctions have resulted in restricted assembly of Maxi and Marina cars.
Meanwhile, 300 workers at the Austin Morris export packing factory, Cowley, walked out after the management refused to delay plans to close the factory this year. The men’s union wants to air its opposition at York next week. but the company says the closure was brought forward because alternative jobs in the Cowley complex were available.
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