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The death of the British car industry: Part two

3 years ago

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Andrew English | Journalist


4 September 2021

When Michael Edwards took over the top job at British Leyland in 1977, the company’s market share had fallen from 30 per cent in 1975 to 25 per cent. As he put it: ‘companies like Jaguar and Land Rover were being emasculated by the Leyland Syndrome, where management was trying to impose the Leyland umbrella on individual marques – productivity was low, quality and reliability, even on Jaguar, was low and the market share was declining… but vocal militants were being led by the nose by ideological extremists.’

But the workforce was growing equally fed up with the ‘them-and-us’ attitudes and strikes, which hit hard at pay packets and family finances. Despite the closure of the Triumph plant at Speke and the MG plant at Abingdon, in November 1979 in a ballot over a strike proposal over union leader Derek Robinson’s sacking, 14,000 voted against him, just 600 in favour. He was out.

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