Threats of the one-day unofficial stoppage, planned for July 27, followed by an all-out strike from August 21, have diminished after a series of talks between management and unions.
A prolonged dispute would compromise Ryton's case to build a small sports utility variant of the 206, previewed as the Escapade at the 1998 Paris and Birmingham motor shows. PSA Peugeot-Citroen sources confirmed that Ryton was “well placed” to secure the recreational vehicle.
But a spokesman added: “The proposed strike certainly does not help the case for building cars in the UK. There are enough issues like the strength of sterling and over capacity in Europe without added aggravation. We are reasonably optimistic about finding a solution.”
The dispute centres on overtime payments for third shift workers who work the Friday night shift at Ryton. Management had been trying to apply a common 36.25-hour week to bring Ryton in line with PSA's other European plants, while increasing output to 200,000 cars this year from 168,000 units in 1999.
For the third shift weekend workers this means stepping up from 29 hours for a 17% wage rise, while the weekday shift crews have their time cut from 39 hours to 36.25 hours with no change in income.