Letter: Firms up to standard in industrial relations

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article on the events at the Timex plant (18 May) comments that a depressingly large number of companies in Britain still have poor relationships with their workforce. You imply that this is the norm; it is my experience that it is becoming the exception.

To survive the recent recession, most manufacturing concerns have had to focus their energy on their core business and achieve high quality standards. This can only be done by involving the entire workforce, using and developing their talents to the full and, indeed, treating their human resources as their most valuable asset.

The Investors in People initiative, which was launched in 1991, provides a standard for developing the human talent available to any organisation. Your pages have recently carried national advertising of this initiative. About 250 organisations have been recognised to date as achieving the standard and 3,000 have made a firm commitment to that objective.

The current momentum behind this initiative is substantial and increasing. It is my experience that in most communities well over 50 per cent of all employers having more than 200 employees are developing the culture reflected in the standard.

I believe that a renaissance of British manufacturing is now established with a culture of teamwork, competence and quality driving success. This is recognised by inward investors to Europe where more than 50 per cent of Japanese and US investment is in the UK.

The weakness we face and a continuing tension in our society is that our working population is not as well educated or trained as our international competitors. Much is being done to address this shortfall and many employers are playing their part. Success, however, needs the active commitment of every single individual, who should view learning and skill development as a lifetime activity.

This age of technology, information and communications rewards those nations whose people learn new skills to stay ahead. We are still too much a country that groans at going back to school. At best we are reluctant students in a world that rewards learning.

Many of our most successful companies are well on the way to becoming not just 'Investors in People' but also organisations where everyone is committed to lifelong learning. They will lead our trading across the world in years to come.

As you quite rightly observe, the days are numbered for those who continue to treat their employees as commodities.

Yours faithfully,

ANTHONY DARBYSHIRE

Retford, Nottinghamshire

21 May

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