Archive : Chatting up the boys at the benches

By Geoffrey Goodman

By the end of this week virtually all British Leyland’s 165,000 employees will have had the opportunity to find out exactly what Sir Michael Edwardes is talking about over his BL recovery plan. And they will also have had the chance to tell him what they think about it.

BL’s senior management team is now conducting the most extensive detailed exercise in consultation that I can remember.
Edwardes called together his top 120 managers about ten days ago and briefed them to go out and explain The Plan.. . and why it was necessary to cut out 25,000 jobs and close or slim down up to 15 plants.

He also gave the OK to take the wraps off BL’s new car models for the next four years, including the famous, but still secret, Mini Metro. Since then the BL management team has been touring every plant in the group using the latest visual aids – video systems , slides , films , etc – to explain the plan .

The new models have been on show to meetings of thousands of BL workers who have been invited to ask their bosses any questions. The BL management team has been working round-the-clock shifts. Some have attended five meetings a day and others have been concentrating on the night shifts.

Mr Harold Musgrove , managing director of Austin-Morris cars division , says he will have covered the whole of his own division’s 40,000 workers by tomorrow the day the ballot forms are due for posting to the, Electoral Reform Society. “The response to these ‘ meetings has been tremendous,” Mr Musgrove told me.

“We have presented the facts-and the shop floor has responded with probing questions.”

“We’ve never done anything quite like this . before. Maybe it would have been better if we had.”

Keith Adams

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