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UK industries on upturn.

Enlightened management seem to have taken on board that people operate best when they are given responsibility. Even when this is not given them, workers sometimes grasp the initiative. This is one conclusion to be drawn from a conference organized recently by the British-shop floor paper The Industrial Pioneer.

Speakers from the steel, shipbuilding, car components, chemical and coal industries endorsed the theme of the conference, `Seizing the opportunities of the next decade', which was held at the MRA centre in Cheshire.

They gave stiking evidence of a turn-around in once declining UK companies, reinforced by encouraging economic statistics presented by David Botterill, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Engineering Employers' Federation.

The Llanwern steelworks in South Wales, on the point of closure in 1980, is now one of the world's most efficent plants, said the Information Officer and former Employee Director, David Williams. The workforce, cut from 9,300 to 3,600, is producing over three million tonnes a year. `You can have the kit, the technology, but unless you have the willingness to change you are dead,' said Williams. The plant was implementing Total Quality Management which encouraged ownership of problems `and along with ownership there is also commitment', said Williams.

Shipbuilding might be in decline worldwide but British shipyards were now winning the niche market in repair and refitting orders, said Nick Granger, Director of the National Shipbuilding and Ship Repairers Association. `Our yards have built a reputation for working free of labour disputes and providing quality workmanship on time,' he said. He predicted the need for new shipbuilding to meet a huge potential market in short coastal trade within Europe.

Training for skills

A Birmingham car components firm is rewarding craftsmen who train in their own time for additional skills. Albert Benbow, a former trade union convenor at SU Automotive, said that 70 workers so far had each received [pounds sterling]100 from the company on completing training courses at a local technical college. The majority had stayed loyal to the company despite prospects elsewhere. `They are given responsibility and are fairly rewarded for their level of competence,' said Benbow.
COPYRIGHT 1996 For A Change
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Miles Paine
Publication:For A Change
Date:Jun 1, 1996
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