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Strike brake

7 February 1979

By Declan Cunningham

Top level talks will be held tomorrow to avert the all-out strike threat to Leyland. The crisis meeting was called after a plea from Mr Terry Duffy, president of the engineering workers union. It was announced as the first signs of an 'inside'revolt against the'suicidal'strike were revealed. Over 4,500 Jaguar car workers in Coventry said:

'We don't want to strike.'

They made their feelings clear at shop floor meetings in which they rejected calls for a mass walk-out by the company's entire 100,000 workforce at 34 plants. Senior shop stewards called the strike over Leyland's inability to meet promised parity payments of up to £10 a week for some workers backdated to November. The company says it just cannot aflord to pay because workers have not met agreed production targets. The official result of the Jaguar vote will not be known until today. But a shop steward revealed:

'There is hardly any support here for the strike.'

At the nearby Coventry Engines plant which makes engines for the Austin-Morris range, there were more signs that workers are wavering, a shop steward said:

'So far only one section has had a meeting and others will vote later. But the result of the first meeting was so close that everyone is still arguing over whether it was for or against the strike. We just don't know which way the factory will swing until all the section votes are in. It could be a close thing.'

The first indications of a crack in the strike call came after the company took fullpage advertisements in national and local newspapers

'Warning: Your decision could put large chunks of B.L. cars at risk. The company must keep working.'

Before the advertisement appeared 700 Transport Union members at the S.U. carburetter factory-in Birmingham voted in favour of the strike by a three-to-one majority.

Although S.U. employs only a relatively small number of workers their vote could be crucial because the strike will go ahead if a majority of Leyland's 34 plants vote in favour. There will be a mass meeting today at the Longbridge plant in Birmingham.

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