While the strike at the Jaguar car factory in Coventry continued yesterday, an appeal by both management and unions went to strikers at Speke, near Liverpool, to return to work at the Standard-Triumph factory there. The Coventry strike, which has made 1500 assembly men idle, arose from the transfer of a member of the Sheetmetal Workers’ Union from one section of the body shop to another.
At Speke, the strike, by 150 men in the maintenance department, began on Monday over the dismissal of a foreman. More than 2000 have since been laid off- there and at the firm’s Coventry factory. After talks yesterday with the Electrical Trades Union and the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the management agreed to reinstate the foreman pending further discussions on Monday.
On this day John Barber travels to Longbridge. With him are Walter Boardman of Standard-Triumph and Gerald Wright, Leyland motors new chief accountant who came from Ford. At Longbridge they find every spare piece of ground is filled with incomplete vehicles, a legacy of MK2 ADO16 and Mini component shortages.
After examining BMH’s books, they travel back to London to a meeting of senior Leyland directors. They are joined by Sir George Harriman, Ronald Lucas of BMH and their financial and legal advisors.
Leyland’s directors decide to recommend the abandonment of the merger having discussed BMH’s finances.
However time consuming wrangles over the wording of a press statement enable last ditch efforts to save the merger to take place.
At 11.30pm Sir Donald Stokes has an emergency meeting at Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Belgrave Square, London, flat.
Also present are Michael Verey, BMH’s financial advisor from Schroeder Wagg and Sir Frank Kearton of the IRC.
Kearton tells Stokes that if the merger agreement collapsed, then the IRC would support a Leyland takeover bid for BMH. This forces a climbdown by BMH represented by Michael Verey, who provisionally agrees to Sir George Harriman standing down after six months as chairman of the merged company.
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