I suffered a serious moment of disbelief this morning while driving to work, and listening to union boss Tony Woodley doing all he could to pour cold water over Tata’s purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover.
I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. Woodley is general secretary of the Unite union and his view of the world was formed while working at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere plant during the 1970s. Back then Britain’s strike-prone car factories were a byword for terrible industrial relations and it’s clear that even thirty years later he thinks that every question is one of ‘us and them’.
But on a day to show the world a united face, Woodley’s lukewarm support for the deal – including telling the BBC it was a “sad day for British industry” - comes across as a deliberate snub towards Tata, especially as union approval for the deal was a key aim of the negotiators.
Woodley should have more respect for his members and their interests – fundamental to which is surely a strong company. The latest attack is entirely in character, though – Woodley has conspicuously failed to criticise the increasingly punitive taxation being directed at the luxury saloons and 4x4s being produced by his members.
Maybe Woodley would have been happier with independence for Jag and Land Rover – just like MG Rover. But that story didn’t end very happily, did it?