By CLIFFORD WEBB,
Midland Industrial Correspondent
Les Cannon, president of the electricians’ union, made a personal attempt to break the fortnight-old deadlock at British Leyland’s Cowley plant. He sent messages to the 126 union members on unofficial strike, calling them to a meeting this morning at Oxford. Mr. Cannon is expected to urge the men to return immediately and join negotiations already under way for a new pay structure for the 4,000 day workers at Cowley.
Meanwhile a row blew up yesterday between the unofficial British Leyland joint shop stewards committee and leaders of the motor unions about next week’s meeting of representatives of t-he group’s 150.000 workers. It has been called to discuss Lord Stokes’s allegation of chaos and anarchy in the industrv. After a meeting in Birmingham yesterday the shop stewards executive, which claims to represent British Leyland’s 70 plants in the U.K, announced that it was urging all chief shop stewards in the group to attend the meeting next Tuesday ” wbether they are invited or not “.
Union leaders have re-stricted attendance to chairmen and secretaries of works’ councils. After yesterday’s meeting, shop stewards protested that many of those invited did not take part in normal negotiations. They said it was an attempt by national officials to set up another body to do the work they had been doing since the merger between Leyland and British Motor Corporation.
A spokesman said: “We are determined that if anybody is going to be officially recognized it will be us. We reckon that by spreading the meeting to include all chief shop stewards we shall at least double and maybe treble the attendance.”
British Levland’s production problems continued yesterday with a total of over 8.000 men idle. All production has been at a standstill at the Austin-Morris plant at Cowley, Oxford, for nearly a fortnight. At Longbridge production has been cut to a trickle with 1,600 men idle as a result of a strike by 200 assembly workers and a shortage of heaters from the strike bound Witney, Oxfordshire, plant of Smiths Industries.