A mass meeting of shop stewards from British Leyland plants throughout the country yesterday issued a warning to Lord Stokes, the group’s chairman. They said any move to carry out a reported threat to close the strike bound truck and tractor plant at Bathgate, West Lothian would lead to widespread industrial action.
There was an immediate reaction from British Leyland headquarters in London. In the most detailed statement yet issued on the Bathgate situation a spokesman said: “It should be made quite clear that the corporation has never threatened to close the commercial vehicle plant at Bathgate just because men who believe they have a grievance have decided to withhold their labour. We are merely stating the obvious.
“The plant has always been unprofitable although great efforts on the part of management to improve the product line and marketing would have resulted in a more profitable financial situation if production had not been so badly and constantly interrupted. We have obtained several other large overseas orders for vehicles produced at Bathgate, but all the contracts specifv delivery dates and in some cases there are penalty clauses. If this strike continues the plant will run out of orders and die on its feet for lack of work. This will not be a rapid process. but one of gradual deterioration.”
Yesterday’s meeting in Birmingham was attended by over 200 shop stewards. It was addressed by representatives of the 3,000 Bathgate workers who have been on strike for the past eight weeks for an extra £8 a week. A resolution pledging full support for the strikers was passed