A weekend warning by Raymond J. Smart, managing director of British Leyland’s truck and tractor division at Bathgate, West Lothian that the plant might close down because of continued industrial trouble, was rejected last night by shop stewards as “an exercise in industrial blackmail”.
Mr. Smart had issued a letter individually to the 5,000 workers warning them of the closure because of, labour troubles including strikes, overtime- bans and’ restrictive’ practices. Tam Dalyell, the local Labour M.P.. said that Mr Smart was “not bluffing ‘. The joint shop stewards committee’ issued the following statement: “We, the Leyland (Scotland) joint shop stewards – committee, totally reject the ‘terms of Mr Smart’s letter issued to our members on Saturday. We refuse to accept this exercise in industrial blackmail, a weapon which has been constantly used by Leyland management and by British Motor Corporation before them.”
The company claims that orders worth some £2m.; most of this in exports, had been lost and that 1700 lorries which should have left Bathgate weeks ago remain uncompleted. The Bathgate factory was started ten years ago by B.M.C.