CABINET IN PLAN TO SELL OFF LAND ROVER
By Don Perry
A short, sharp, shock is in store for the chiefs of British Leyland when they see Sir Keith Joseph, the Industry Secretary, with an Oliver Twist request for Â£400 million more later this month.
Although. BL is now running in the red again the Industry Secretary wants to know how chairman Sir Michael Edwardes proposes to raise some ofthe huge investment requirement himself.
And members of the Cabinet have been reviewing a tempting scheme. It will be suggested to Sir Michael that he sells the very successful Land â€“ Rover business which, at a conservative , estimate , would raise at least Â£250 million.
The industry ministers have a further shock for the BL chiefs. After the overwhelming seven to -one vote of the Leyland workers in favour of the Edwardes survival plan. Ministers now want to hear what Sir Michael is doing to set up a better line of communication between his management and the men, without going through the discredited shop stewards who were near unanimous in their
rejection of the plan .
On the sale of Land Rover, a compromise may be reached, with BL keeping part of the company , a proportion of the shares being sold, to the employees, and the rest sold to private investors and institutions , such as the big banks and insurance companies.
BL personnel chiefs are already at work on new schemes for better industrial relations .
Among the new proposals being discussed are works councils, with representatives from the shop floor elected by the same secret ballot methods that produced a 106,062 vote in favour of the Edwardes plan to 15,541 against. Shop stewards would be able to stand, along with other candidates for the works councils but the essential differences from the present militant dominated branch meetings would be the use of postal voting from the car workers.