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Car Strike For Union Meeting, Firm Claim

18 April 1969

By Bryn Jones

As Premier Harold Wilson warned Labour MPs last night against opposing his anti-strike plans, Jaguar chiefs launched a bitter attack on a wildcat stoppage called for today. The one-day walk-out was called yesterday by 300 trim-shop workers at the company's Coventry plant.

They said that it is in protest at Jaguar placing body-trim work with outside firms. But the company claimed that the men are striking so that they could get a good attendance at their union's annual meeting today.

A Jaguar spokesman said: " We have no doubt about this. The strike has been called on a pretext, but the real reason is they get a better turn-out at the meeting if it is held during a strike."

He added: "This is the sort of thing the Government's strike-curbing proposals are about. There is little hope of getting Britain's economy on an even keel if actions like this are allowed to occur .”

The walk-out means that all production at the plant will halt for the day. More than 1,000 assembly workers have been told not to report for work.

The spokesman said: " The strike will cost us 140 cars in lost production, half of them for export. We are losing production of E-type and XJ6 models, which are two of the most successful cars in export markets we have ever had."

He said that the strikers—members of the National Union of Vehicle Builders—had brought their annual meeting forward from tomorrow to today. He added: "We have definite evidence of the truth of this. One of our supervisors was told that the strike had been called because not many turned up at a union meeting on Saturday. So they called the strike for today when the meeting will be held."

Mr Fred Palmer, district organiser of the NUVB, said last night: " It is a pity the strike is to take place. I cannot condone it, and I think it is certainly not in the men's interest."

He added: " I regret this unofficial action as I feel there is still plenty of talking we could do on the subject of trim-work orders. It might even be that this strike could bring about more outside contracting , the thing the men are trying to stop."

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