Indian business executive Ratan Tata has blasted the work ethic of British employees and managers.
Tata, a member of the Prime Minister David Cameron's Business Advisory Group, and co-chairman of the UK-India CEO Forum, discussed the behavior of managers at steel manufacturer Corus and carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which he purchased in 2006 and 2008, respectively.
It's a work-ethic issue,” he told The Times of London.
“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.
The inflammatory comments after one of his firms, Tata Steel, said it plans to lay off up to 1,500 workers at plants in Scunthorpe and Teesside, England.
Tata contrasted the laziness of British managers with the dedication shown by their Indian counterparts.
“If you are in a crisis, [in India] if it means working to midnight, you would do it,” he said.
“The worker in JLR seems to be willing to do that; the management is not.
He added that before at JLR the entire engineering group would be empty on Friday evening, but the situation has recently improved.
The new management team has put an end to that. They call meetings at 5 o'clock, he said.
Not surprisingly, British union officials condemned Tata’s remarks.
“I’m shocked and extremely disappointed that the company would make comments of that nature, particularly at a time when they have just announced significant cutbacks in the UK,” Roy Rickhuss, Community Union’s national officer for Steel, told WalesOnline.
“His comments are, at best, ill thought out and insensitive. The British workforce has been totally committed and delivers year on year productivity increases in the region of 10%, which is equal to world best practice.”
Rickhuss added: “In 2008, when we were in the depths of the recession, the company engaged with the workforce through the unions and delivered cost savings to the company close on £1-billion. That was through the commitment and initiatives of the workforce, and the company went on record to thank the UK workforce for their co-operation and commitment at the time. The initiative was called Weathering the Storm and the workforce contributed ideas and suggestions to create changes in working practice to the tune of £1-billion.”
Rickhuss concluded: “He [Tata] really ought to think before he makes such comments.”