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My experience as a shop steward: British Leyland in the 1960s and 1970s

Thora Hands interviewed Linda Fisher in early 2022 about her time working at the British Leyland factory, Bathgate, West Lothian. This was one of the largest plants of its kind established in the UK in the post-1945 era and was to represent an important source of employment for an overwhelmingly male workforce drawn from across Central Scotland.

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This article belongs to the Women and Workplace Struggles: Scotland 1900-2022 collection.

Silhouettes of people holding a variety of protest banners

British Leyland bathgate

The Bathgate factory was one of several factories established in central Scotland during the 1950s and 1960s under UK government regional policies. The main goal of these was to contribute to the modernisation and diversification of the economy of parts of the UK then facing the decline of ‘older’ heavy industries, such as coal mining, shipbuilding, heavy engineering and so on.

The truck and tractor plant established by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) at Bathgate, West Lothian in 1981 was one of two vehicle assembly plants set up at this time, the other being the car plant at Linwood in Renfrewshire. Sadly, both Bathgate and Linwood are ‘no more’, at least in the words of the Proclaimer's hit song, Letter from America.

The Bathgate truck plant was opened in 1961 and following years of redundancies and ‘restructuring’, finally closed down in 1986 with the loss of over 2,000 jobs. The Bathgate area has yet to fully recover from the economic blow this impacted the region.

Photo of CWU members campaigning British Leyland’s Truck and Tractor Plant, Bathgate, 1980

Linda Fisher’s interview

Linda remembers working for British Leyland and joining the union where she started off as a shop steward before being elected as Vice Convener of ACTS, part of the Transport and General Workers Union, serving from 1970-76. Linda reflects on her role within the union and on women’s working conditions in the 1960s and 70s.

Thora’s interview with Linda is available below. The interview is around 8-9 minutes in length.

Transcript (PDF document19.3 KB)

Photo of CWU members campaigning The photograph shows Linda’s union membership card



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