|Red Robbo and the Trade Unions|
Many people think of the 1970's as an era dominated by irresponsible trade union activity. At the time hardly a day seemed to go by without the media reporting a strike of some kind somewhere in Britain e.g. Three day working weeks of the early 1970's caused by striking miners and power workers, the so-called winter of discontent (strikes by public service employees) preceding James Callaghan's demise as Prime Minister in 1977. In many people's minds political activists were to blame, using industrial strife as a means for propagating social and political change.
British Leyland (B.L.) were particularly hard hit by strike action during the 1970's. Whilst its true that the company lost a lot of cars and money through strike action, far more damaging was the effect that the strikes had on the public's perception of the company and the vehicles it hoped they would buy. British Leyland began to symbolize all that was supposedly wrong with Britain (what people in the rest of the world were calling the English Disease). Hand in hand with the strikes was a marked decline in build quality. Many people blamed the unions and indirectly the workforce for this. B.L. employees didn't seem to take any pride in their work.
At the centre of this political storm was Derek
Robinson (dubbed "Red Robbo" by the media). Mr Robinson was
Works Convenor for the Longbridge plant in Birmingham during the 1970's.
In a bitter dispute in the early 1980's he was sacked by the then Managing
Director Michael Edwards. According to one source Mr Robinson was involved
in over 500 disputes at Longbridge during the period 1978 to 1979.
|Must see sites|
"Back from the brink" by Michael Edwards, Published by Collins in 1983 (second hand copies can be bought on the internet or obtained from your local library)