Tycoon attacks UK work ethic

ONE of Prime Minister David Cameron's business advisers has launched an attack on the "work-ethic" of British management.

Indian tycoon Ratan Tata made the comments as one of his companies, Tata Steel, proposed to close or mothball part of its Scunthorpe plant, putting at risk 1,200 jobs.

The plans would also see 300 jobs lost at its site on Teesside.

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Tata, who is a member of Cameron's Business Advisory Group, and co-chairman of the UK-India Chief Executive Officers Forum, described his surprise at the attitudes of bosses at steelmaker Corus and car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which he bought in 2006 and 2008 respectively.

He said: "It's a work ethic issue. In my experience, in both Corus and JLR, nobody is willing to go the extra mile, nobody. 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."

Tata said things were 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," he said.

The 73-year-old added that previously at JLR "the entire engineering group would be empty on Friday evening", but said things had improved.

"The new management team has put an end to that. They call meetings at 5 o'clock," he said.

Tata Group last week blamed a decline in the construction industry for the cuts in north-east England, but it also announced that it would invest 400 million in its Long Products business over the next five years.

Unions said the jobs losses amounted to 8 per cent of Tata's UK workforce, pledging to try to mitigate the impact, while Labour said it was a "hugely worrying" sign.

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Tata, which completed the sale of its Teesside Cast Products site in Redcar to Thai steel firm SSI earlier this year, launched a 90-day consultation with unions before the redundancies will start.

It said it was "reasonably confident" of achieving most of the job losses through voluntary redundancies, although it could not rule out compulsory lay-offs.