Friday, March 20, 2009

Then and now

Anyone as old as me will remember the strife that hit our car makers back in the seventies - just as it is today - but what a difference thirty years has made!

Back in the seventies the car makers were our own and were desperately trying to bring working practices, production techniques and quality control up to the standards of foreign competition - but were thwarted at every turn by militant unions.

The irony of all this was that the union militancy ensured that those car manufacturers would close down and thousands of jobs would be lost, but it was all about "solidarity" back then - one out all out.

If management had dared to suggest that they were going to shut the plant down for 4 months, lay off hundreds of workers or reduce their pay by 10% that would have been it - a long and bitter strike, picketing, secondary picketing and accusations of "scab" would have abounded.

Today, the workers at the foreign car plants that just happen to be located in Britain (for now) accept the decisions of their Japanese masters meekly and compliantly. They have to. They know only too well what will happen if they don't because they remember what happened in the seventies - and even more recently with MG Rover where a perfectly viable and last British major car manufacturer was brought to its knees once more by union intransigence.

Like most sensible people, I want "British jobs for British workers" - but I also want them working for British companies. I only hope that, should this ever actually happen, the unions will behave in much the same way they do for Toyota, Honda and Nissan and not the way they did for Triumph, Austin and Hillman.

No comments: