BL is threatened by complete shutdown
By Clifford Webb Midlands Industrial Correspondent
The official trade union machinery closed around the dismissed British Leyland shop steward Mr Derek Robinson yesterday threatening a complete shutdown unless he is reinstated, With the chairman, Sir Michael Edwardes, resolutely refusing to give way it seems certain that all car production will be at a standstill by early next week. Last night nearly 40,000 workers were on strike or laid off and only Jaguar production continued with difficulty.
A call for the strike to be made official was made by the Transport and General Workers’ Union, West Midlands regional finance and general purposes committee. Without waiting for the recommendation to be dealt with by union leaders in London it set up a strike committee to co-ordinate the activities of its 20,000 members who had already stopped work.
Mr Brian Mathers, regional secretary, said: “This could bring Leyland to a standstill but I hope it brings them to their senses.”
He described the managements action in dismissing Mr Robinson, chairman of the unofficial British Leyland combined shop stewards-committee, and threatening to dismiss three other officials as “thoroughly irresponsible “.
Today’s action by the Transport and General Workers Union was simply a reaction to that. A British Leyland spokesman claimed that during the day several hundred, employees drifted back to work at Longbridge. . But with 13,000 still on strike their bravery in passing the pickets was little more than a gesture All Longbridge car production remains at a standstill.
The men at work include seven of the 12 employed in the die shop which elected Mr Robinson as a Longbridge shop steward. Throughout the car factories about 31,000 were on strike last night. Their number has not changed appreciably during the past two days but lay-offs are increasing rapidly. Yesterday afternoon a shortage of bodies and engines from the strike- bound Castle Bromwich and Canley plants stopped all car production at Rover Solihull.