An Indian steel tycoon and key advisor to the Prime Minister has attacked the work ethic of UK managers, accusing them of failing to ‘go the extra mile’ and being too keen to clock off at 5pm.
Ratan Tata, who is a member of David Cameron’s Business Advisory Group and co-chairman of the UK-India CEO Forum, made the comments after one of his companies, Tata Steel, announced plans to axe about 1,600 jobs from plants in the north of England.
Mr Tata described his surprise at the attitudes of bosses at his firms Corus (formerly British Steel) and car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover, claiming that they failed to show the same positive attitude to work as their staff. He told the Times: ‘It’s a work-ethic issue. In my experience, in both Corus and JLR, nobody is willing to go the extra mile, nobody.’
Tata continued: ‘I feel if you have come from Bombay to have a meeting and the meeting goes till 6pm, I would expect that you won’t, at 5 o’clock, say “Sorry, I have my train to catch. I have to go home.” Friday, from 3.30pm, you can’t find anybody in their office.’
But he said that things were quite different in his native India. ‘If you are in a crisis, if it means working to midnight, you would do it. The worker in JLR seems to be willing to do that: the management is not,’ Tata attested.
Tata Group, meanwhile, is expected to cut 1,200 posts out of a total of 4,000 in Scunthorpe after announcing proposals to close or mothball part of its plant there. About 390 jobs are also due to be lost from sites in Redcar and Hartlepool on Teesside.
The firm blamed the cuts – which unions said amounted to 8% of its total UK workforce – on a decline in the market for steel, but said it was ‘reasonably confident’ that most could be achieved through voluntary redundancies, although it could not rule out compulsory lay-offs. It has now launched a 90-day consultation with unions on the matter.
Scunthorpe is facing a double whammy, however, after two local councils also announced that they too were making job cuts. Lincolnshire County Council has said it will axe 700 posts in a bid to save £57m, while Tory-run North Lincolnshire Council is expected to outline its plans on Wednesday.