There is a long and proud tradition of car manufacturing in Great Britain and for years it provided the backbone to an important industrial sector that made up an essential part of the nation's infrastructure and which contributed immensely to the balance of imports and exports of international trade.
For many years, the health of the car manufacturing industry was seen as a marker for the overall economic health of the nation itself; especially when it came to the sometimes difficult and vexed question of management and union relations and their effect on productivity.
It is an obvious fact that Britain's manufacturing powers have waned significantly in recent decades, to the point where now we are known much more for service industries, entertainment exports and as an international centre for the financial markets and banking industries. Yet, car manufacturing has not left our shores entirely and reputable brands such as Honda still choose to base some of their operations in our home country.
Admittedly, the nature of the British automobile production industry has changed beyond recognition with most of the home-grown names that became famous in the 50’s and 60’s now owned by overseas corporations and used mainly as limited run 'high end' premium lines.
Nonetheless, a testament to the talent of British car manufacturers and the willingness of modern international business to invest in regions which excel at producing certain goods means that there is another side of the story.
Honda is a Japanese firm which invested heavily in a semi autonomous UK division and which now produces some of the most popular models in the country, such as the Honda Jazz Si. This is the latest variant of Honda’s popular Jazz range which looks to enhance popular features found on familiar models such as the Honda Jazz ES.
In the past the image of the British car manufacturing industry hinged around strikes, conflict and cries of 'one out all out'. What seemed to be constant disruptions to the production lines meant that there was a lack of faith in what was one of the country's major international export productions and as such an unwillingness for foreign companies to invest funds.
By bringing aspects of Japanese workplace relations and practices to the UK, companies such as Honda have revolutionised the relationships between management and shop floor workers, resulting in a more harmonious dialogue that allows flexibility and pragmatism to be called into play.
The recent tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster which paralysed Japan had a disastrous effect to production in the UK due to the interruption of the flow of parts and components for models such as the extremely popular Civic ES. In the old days this would have caused a clash of cultures and interests but today, rather than lay off staff and suffer subsequent industrial action, the agreed introduction of flexible working hours meant pay was maintained and jobs saved for all workers.