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Strike by 150 inspectors halts Rover production at Solihull

13 August 1974

By R. W. Shakespeare Northern Industrial Correspondent

British Leyland, which already faces a crisis over mounting production losses due to disputes, and a lower share of the diminishing home market for cars, ran into still more labour troubles yesterday. A strike by 150 inspectors meant all output of Rover cars, Land-Rovers and Range-Rovers was stopped at the corporation's plant in Solihull, Birmingham, and some 2,700 production workers on both the day and night shifts had to be sent home.

At the same time about 100 clerical workers at Rover's axle and transmission factory in Cardiff also walked out. But output there is not immediately affected and there are no other lay-offs at present. The inspectors at Solihull, who belong to the Transport and General Workers' Union, have demanded regrading into a higher wage scale, and their unofficial walkout followed a break-down in plant level negotiations.

A company spokesman said:  "The lay-offs are for an indefinite period because we are not sure what the next move will be since the stoppage is unofficial."

The Solihull plant makes the 2000 and 3500 Rover cars together with the full range of Land-Rovers and the Range- Rovers, all of which are big export earners. It turns out about 2,500 vehicles a week, and the shutdown means production losses of nearly £1m a day at showroom values.

The dispute in Cardiff Is over a grading issue involving members of the white collar union Apex. In addition to the manufacture, of transmission and axle units for the entire Rover range this plant also houses a central spares department supplying the Rover assembly lines and the servicing trade. Talks with union officials have been arranged for Friday.

Meanwhile, at the British' Leyland Austin/Morris engines plant at Longbridge, Birmingham, a dispute which halted all production and made some 3,000 workers idle before the week-end was temporarily resolved yesterday. A strike by some 1,500 workers followed by the lay-off of 1,500 others began after the management dismissed two men for allegedly fighting on the shop floor. Now the company has agreed to reinstate the men, although they will remain suspended without pay while the matter is discussed with union officials.

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