Archive : The Times lists car industry executives as candidates for posts with British Leyland

  • They were Bill Haden of Ford and later boss of Jaguar
  • Bill Davis, ex-BMC, then head of BLMC corporate manufacturing
  • David Andrews, head of Austin Morris power and transmissions division
  • Derek Whittaker, MD of Austin Morris body and assembly
  • Geoffrey Robinson, then boss of Jaguar
  • And George Turnbull whom they phoned in South Korea.

Turnbull said “I am not in the running for the car job. I would prefer not to talk about any approaches for a post with the new set-up. From the few details I have heard at long range, I think the decentralized organization will have a much better chance of success. It is certainly more in line with the sort of British Leyland I wanted.”

Meanwhile it was announced: that Mr John Barber, the deputy chairman,and managing director who was subject to criticism in the Ryder report, was going on indefinite leave from last night. Although a Leyland spokesman said that Mr Barber had neither resigned nor been dismissed, it was implicitly acknowledged that he had left the company. Reports that Mr Barber who was on a salary of more than £40,000 a year and had a contract with several years to run, would receive compensation of £200,000 were said to be “exaggerated” by the spokesman, who added: “Mr Barber has made a major contribution to the company and reasonable compensation will be agreed.”

It seems that the terms are likely to be about £100,000 or something over twice his current annual salary. In March last year, Mr Barber bought his house in Upshire, Essex, from the company for £40,281 under an option arranged in December 1967. The house is now estimated to be worth more than £100,000.

On Thursday, after publication of the Ryder report, the Leyland board appointed Mr Alex Park, the finance director, as acting managing director, leaving Mr Barber with little option but to leave. A meeting scheduled for yesterday between the board and leading institutional shareholders to discuss the company’s financial situation was postponed to an unspecified date.

Unions want big role: Mr Eddie McGarry, joint chairman of the British Leyland combined shop stewards’ committee, made it clear that the unions wanted a big say in top-level decisions.

“We want to know What the role of the trade unions is going to be at the top, the people who will produce the blueprint for the operation of the restructured company”, Mr McGarry said.

“It is no good expecting conveners and stewards and lower levels to be hallmarking a fait accompli. We see no reasons why we shouldn’t have a 50 per cent share in the decision making.”

The unions, he said, would consider at a special meeting who would represent them on the board. The possibilities for worker participation in decision making would help to reduce man-hours lost through disputes. Mr Park, who is the be chief executive of the restructured group, said “What is wrong with that?” when asked about the possibility of workers on the board.

“They, have to accept responsibilities and share responsibilities”, said Mr Park.

“It is a dual role. Cooperation is a very important thing and you share responsibilities to achieve things. I think we will get that cooperation.”

Mr John Barber spent yesterday clearing his desk in preparation for ” my first holiday in 12 months. The Government has made ‘it clear that certain people do not figure in their plans. I am one of those people.”

Of Alex Park, the man taking over in the hot seat, he said: “I am sure he will do a jolly good job.”

Car Unions Want An Equal Say

The unions want a big say in running the new state-controlled motor giant. “We see no reason why we should not have a 50 per cent, share in the decision-making,” said shop stewards’ leader Eddie McGarry yesterday.

The unions would shortly be choosing a representative for the British Leyland board. Mr McGarry, joint chairman of the British Leyland shop stewards combine, said that the possibilities for worker participation in decision making would help to reduce man-hours lost through disputes. He added: “Obviously our people don’t want strikes for the hell of it and we shall be matching up to the responsibilities that are required from us.”

Benn : We Had To Act
By Alan Law

The government’s takeover of British Leyland was described yesterday by Industry Minister Tony Benn as ” the largest rescue case of all.”
And he defended the car giant’s workers.

Mr Benn said: “Attempts to blame workers for the state of the company are superficial , offensive, and do not merit serious consideration.”

“The real fault is a chronic lack of investment over many years. The Ryder report has identified this lack in the manufacturing industry as having brought one of Britain’s greatest firms almost to its knees.”

Mr Benn told the engineering union’s annual policy-making conference in Blackpool: “The choice now is to pull out of the British motor industry involving directly 160,000 jobs and affecting nearly a million jobs altogether—or to undertake a major re-equipment programme involving public ownership and a major advance in industrial democracy.”

But in London the takeover was attacked by Tory industry spokesman Michael Heseltine. He forecast that it would not solve any of British Leyland’s problems. Mr Heseltine said there was no guarantee that the firm’s “regrettable record ” of industrial relations would improve. He said: “Without a new mood the rationalization process which is only hinted at in the Ryder report will be no more successful this time.”

Keith Adams

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