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British Leyland chairman Sir Michael Edwardes dies aged 88

Union-busting chairman of British Leyland Sir Michael Edwardes, who saved the failing company and was integral to Margaret Thatcher’s vision of Britain, dies aged 88

  • Sir Michael Edwardes cut the number of British Leyland workers almost in half 
  • Integral to the Thatcherite revolution, he later took charge of other companies
  • He is survived by wife Sheila, three daughters, five grandchildren and sister Jill 

Sir Michael Edwardes, the union-busting chairman of British Leyland, has died aged 88.

Before he took charge of the partly nationalised car company, whose makes included Rover, Austin, Morris, Jaguar and Triumph, it suffered heavy losses and was plunged into a financial crisis.

It had lost production of 250,000 cars because of industrial disputes and needed state cash. 

Sir Michael Edwardes, the union-busting chairman of British Leyland, has died aged 88

Without this, it could not pay the workforce past the end of the year.

Appointed in 1977, Sir Michael cut the number of workers almost in half, from 172,000 to 90,000. 

The combative South African businessman undermined the power of what he called the ‘militant’ shop stewards by going directly to the workers. His proposals saw productivity rise.

Integral to the Thatcherite revolution, he later took charge of several other big companies. 

The combative South African businessman undermined the power of what he called the ‘militant’ shop stewards by going directly to the workers

Sir Michael was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 1930. His career was spent split between the African continent and England.  

He is survived by his wife Sheila, three daughters, five grandchildren and sister Jill.

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