By Bryn Jones
British Leyland accused shop stewards last night of ‘deliberately sabotaging’ a meeting which could have ended a crippling three-week-old strike.
More than 12,000 Leyland workers at Cowley, Oxford have been made idle, by the strike by eighty plant attendants. But when two top trade union chiefs arrived in Oxford to try to settle the dispute yesterday almost all the plant attendants refused to meet them.
Last night, British Leyland claimed that stewards had carried out a deliberate campaign to sabotage the meeting between the union officials and the strikers.
Stewards had visited the strikers homes to persuade them not to attend the meeting with Transport Union chief Moss Evans and Engineering Union leader Reg Birch, said a company spokesman.
The strikers who did arrive for the meeting were turned away at the factory gates by the stewards, the spokesman
added. A toughly worded company statement said last night: ‘The management has irrefutable evidence that the shop stewards took deliberate steps to sabotage the meeting by putting pressure on the attendants to stay away.’
The two union chiefs had traveled to Oxford to try to persuade the men to accept an extra 2p an hour offer. Later the company said it would not improve this offer.
The plant, attendants and the 12,000 men laid off have lost about £100 in wages because of the dispute. The strike, which began on June 1 has cost British Leyland about 14,000 Marina and Maxi cars worth about £14,000,000.