Archive : The Killing Of A Car Giant

By Robert Head

City financier Jim Slater told British Leyland shareholders yesterday why their firm is broke. Waving a page from the Daily Mirror, Mr Slater, a director of the trouble-hit car group, said one reason was that ” our labour is the least productive in the world.”

He quoted figures printed in the Mirror on June 26 showing that production from workers in key British industries was lower than many European competitors. “In cars we are less than half as productive as others, in railways less than a third, in steel two-fifths, in shipbuilding a third, in coal a
quarter,” he said.

Mr Slater backed a government rescue bid for British Leyland masterminded by former Industry Secretary Tony Wedgwood Benn , under which shareholders are offered only 10p a share. The firm’s chairman, Lord Stokes, was heckled as he tried to explain the terms of the offer.

The meeting voted to accept the bid and reorganization plans.

Keith Adams


  1. The low productivity, the *lazy” (implied) British worker the cause.

    The Japanese did not see the British worker as such, they chose to invest in the UK and the British worker.

    Toyota, Honda, and Nissan.

    The Nissan plant in Sunderland has one of the highest figures for output/ employee in Europe

  2. That paragon of productivity, Red Robbo, was still around when the article was written. It was only when Thatcher broke the unions’ stranglehold on manufacturing industry that things improved and those who wished to work productively were able to do so . That was what convinced the Japanese that investment was worthwhile

  3. @1 – Yes, but this article refers to the situation 1974/5, not 2013! – Thing is if BL hadnt suffered strikes and had managed to produce thousands more cars, it would have been crippled by the warranty costs for all those extra Allegros/Marinas/Maxis etc. There would have been more of them no doubt, but they would have all still been rubbish cars. Lets not forget the role pig ignorant managers, inept designers, non exsistent product planning and comical commercial management played in BL’s downfall.

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