Archive : Back from the brink

By Peter Mason and David Jack

The all-out strike threatening Leyland was finally lifted yesterday by 400 union officials, who agreed to endorse the overwhelming “let’s work on” vote by 93,000 workers last week. But while the spirit of peace spread round most of Leyland, one massive factory remained shut down by strikers. Staying out are men at the Birmingham Longbridge plant, home of the Mini and Allegro. They will decide tomorrow whether to return to work. Works convener Derek Robinson – dubbed Derek the Red for his militant views – stressed that he would not be recommending a return to work.

“Nothing is changed. Leyland has come up with no new proposals,” he said defiantly.

Other plants will be hit if Longbridge stays out. It produces engines for the Cowley plant at Oxford (Maxi’s, Princesses and Marinas are built there) and for the M.G. plant at Abingdon. A march of moderates aimed at getting Longbridge back to work slithered to a standstill, beaten bv a blizzard and a show of strength by strike pickets. Fewer than 100 workers braved an early-morning snowstorm to answer the call from shopfloor peacemaker Don Harris. Squads of police stood by near the gates ready for a showdown but the moderates retreated from a confrontation with the heavily reinforced picket line. The moderates plan another meeting tomorrow. Work also remains halted on Leyland’s hope for the future, the £300 million Super-Mini factory near Longbridge. Building workers were persuaded not to cross the picket lines of men drafted in from Longbridge.

Keith Adams

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