Workers at Leyland Innocenti’s plant near Milan today staged a half-day strike in protest against British Leyland’s decision to cut the labour force by a third, from 4,600 to about 3,000. A delegation of workers demonstrated before the Lombardy regional government’s seat in Milan.
The metal workers trade union and the works council, in calling the strike last night, announced firm opposition to any measures to reduce job levels and called on the management to give a pledge that no steps would be taken before the plant reopened after the summer holidays on August 28. Discussion between the management and works council about cutting production after August 28 are deadlocked, but a company spokesman today said contacts continued and it was possible an agreement might be found before shutting down for the holiday on Friday.
British Leyland’s decisions, communicated to the Italian government at a meeting, in Rome last week are expected to reduce the Italian subsidiary’s output, mostly assembled Minis , to about 40,000 a year. This contrasts with the present annual level of 60,000 to 65,000. which under earlier plans was to be raised to 100,000. The British management’s tactics are being followed closely by Italian companies in the sector where any similar labour cuts would be likely to provoke an explosion.
The Milan Corriere della Sera today commented that any such measures would be unthinkable by Fiat or Alfa Romeo. It also said that a major Italian company-would not have seen fit, as Leyland Innocenti did, to inform the government of its plans before the unions. The British parent’s policies have provoked the resignation of Signor Pier Giovanni Bella, Levland Innocenti’s managing director. His successor, Mr Percy Plant, does not speak Italian.