The Japanese, the European Market and the Automobile Industry in the United Kingdom
Recent investment by Honda, Nissan and Toyota in car production in the UK has occurred against a background of a long period of absolute decline in the UK car industry and a shorter period of absolute and relative decline in the car industry there. A falling share of world output became accompanied by an absolute decline in production from over two million cars in 1970 to under one million in the mid 1980s, despite successive attempts to arrest it (see Wilks, 1984). In 1968, encouraged by Government, the remaining nationally-owned car companies merged to form the British Leyland Motor Company (see Central Policy Review Staff, 1975). When this failed to produce its intended effects, it was nationalised in 1975 to ensure the survival of a company of pivotal importance to the balance-of-payments position, national industrial production and employment (see Department of Industry, 1975). Nevertheless, the decline of BL continued, seemingly inexorably. One reason for the continuing problems of BL, and more generally of car production in the UK, was that from the 1950s the car plants became the location of a recurrent struggle between managers and workers (for example, see Beynon, 1973). Capital:labour conflict had important consequences for corporate competitiveness. Whilst BL’s position continued to deteriorate, other companies increased their market share but in the context of a dramatic reduction in national production and rapidly growing import penetration.
KeywordsLabour Productivity Industrial Relation Assembly Plant Component Sector Component Supplier
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.