Birmingham Post, 11th September, 2009
Former MG Rover workers passing Longbridge’s once bustling Q Gate reacted to the publication of the report with a mixture of resignation, bewilderment and apathy.
The aptly-named Maurice Minor, 61, who worked at the factory for 32 years, said the report contained “no shocks” and questioned why £16 million had been spent preparing it. Mr Minor, who worked as an Inspector and Foreman at the site, said: “I think the report was a huge waste of money – it’s not going to do anything for anybody.”
Mr Minor, who now runs his own business, described the proposed efforts to ban the so-called Phoenix Four from holding company office as illogical. “What they did was immoral, but it’s been found by a £16 million inquiry that they have not done anything to charge them with. It’s probably a good thing, but I can’t see the logic in it.”
Mr Minor, whose family links with Longbridge stretch back to the 1920s, pointed out that the Phoenix Four would have taken legal advice before taking money out of MG Rover. “The guys at the top were not mugs,” he said. “What I think is wrong is the morality of what they did in taking millions out of the company when it was in such a state. They were still taking money out while they were not making it – it was immoral but not illegal. This company was not making money but they were still ripping out millions – which to me seems totally wrong.”
We needed the report for people to come to closure in the local area. People have had their houses repossessed, couples have broken up, relationships have broken up – the 6,000 people at Longbridge were led to the slaughter.” Gemma Cartwright, a campaigner for former Longbridge workers
Another former Longbridge employee, who was walking his dog past Q Gate, said the Phoenix Four would be untroubled by the report. The man, who declined to be named, said: “It’s a complete waste of money and doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. Knowing exactly how much the bosses took out doesn’t make any difference. Everyone already knew the losers were the workers so I can’t see why they needed to spend £16 million when no-one is being prosecuted.”
However, Gemma Cartwright, the wife of a Longbridge worker who campaigned to save the jobs of those who were sacked, said the report would at least draw some form of line under the pain caused by MG Rover’s collapse. Mrs Cartwright said: “We needed the report for people to come to closure in the local area. People have had their houses repossessed, couples have broken up, relationships have broken up – the 6,000 people at Longbridge were led to the slaughter.”
Car industry expert Professor David Bailey, of Coventry University Business School, was also at Q Gate when the report was made public. After quickly scanning some of its contents, Mr Bailey expressed hope that the inquiry may lead to greater accountability and transparency in the business world.
“It’s very interesting,” the Professor said, “There is a lot of detailed stuff in there about what the Phoenix Four paid themselves – that wasn’t a surprise but at least there’s now a definite figure. What they did does not look very good – they were ultimately responsible for the failure of this company. They should have found a partner – they didn’t and the company went bust.”
[Source: Birmingham Post]
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