By Ray Fleming

IT was a change to see British managers instead of British workers blamed for laziness and the consequent loss of 1'500 jobs in the steel industry at the weekend.

The complaint that managers would not work after 6pm and went home at 3.30pm on Fridays was made by Ratan Tata, the Indian businessman who owns a sizeable part of the British steel industry.

Accusations of this kind are easy to make and difficult to refute. Confidence in their accuracy is not increased by calls for “the sort of spirit that comes during a war”. Mr Tata is a member of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Group and co-chairman of the UK-CEO India Forum so it is to be hoped that when speaking in those circles he avoids generalisations and rhetoric of this kind. One obvious riposte is to ask him who appoints the managers of whom he thinks so little.

The extra mile
But he should also check his views with some of his most senior staff. Having seen him reported on the front page of The Times as saying that “nobody in Britain is willing to go the extra mile” it was odd to read in the same report the view of Karl-Ulrich Kohler, the head of Tata Steel in Europe, that “I say it loud and clear, our British workforce has dedication, loyalty and skills.” Including the managers, presumably.