Archive : Sir Don visits the car makers

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

From David Leigh, Cowley, Oxford

Sir Don Ryder, notoriously early riser and the man entrusted by the Government with an analysis of the financial trouble at British Leyland drove to the Cowley motor plant at Oxford early yesterday morning. His visit was not a suitable occasion for publicity, British Leyland said, and forbade journalists to enter the factories. Sir Don, the former chairman of the paper and publishing group, Reed International, was making his first practical acquaintance with the car industry.

“I am coming on my own”, he said.

“Other members of my team are visiting other plants. One can’t have an exercise like this without seeing the physical side of it: I must get the whole feeling of the company.”

Before driving back to London he spent nine hours meeting departmental managers and senior shop stewards, and “walking the plants”. The vast body and assembly works straddle the Cowley by-pass, employ 12000 people, and have some of the worst labour conflicts and lowest profitability record of any unit within British Leyland. As the Government’s industrial adviser, Sir Don has to prepare a report on the company, which is being supported by the Government.

In the words of British Leyland’s finance director: “Sir Don’s review team and the Government will he forced to base any decision on the cold hard facts of commercial credibility.”

As Sir Don was beinig conducted on his tour, Cowley’s present strike was taking its course a mile down tile road. In the Cowlev Workers Social Club, 250 engine tuners decided to continue their week long strike at least until Monday.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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