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Going with the flow

Comment
Gordon Boyle


During this time of great uncertainty in the UK which obviously produces a great deal of fear I’ve been reading more into the history of the relationship between the British Isles and mainland Europe and to be honest the relationship was never a bed of roses.

Whatever happens, people like me will have to go with the flow and hopefully whatever the new relationship becomes let’s hope it happens quickly. After three years of debate and uncertainty it is now time to draw a line in the sand.

One thing that I take from the last three years is the levels of incompetency shown by some of the people who have been charged with looking after our interests in a parliamentary system and this got me thinking about a personal experience.

Before I moved to the Middle East in the early 1990s, I headed up the management of a large bakery employing around eight hundred in the team. When I was appointed to run the bakery, it held the accolade of the worst performing bakery out of the 38 bakeries in the group.

After almost four years of hard work and much change the bakery was recognised as the best bakery in the group and the main board sales director came up to Scotland from London to recognise the team. I asked him if it would be appropriate to take all the team and their partners to a five-star hotel on Loch Lomond outside Glasgow to celebrate. This was approved and a small team set about organising the party.

Two days before the party I received a call from London advising me that the board in London had decided to close the bakery and I had to announce their decision the following week. I explained we were about to have a celebration in recognition of the award the bakery had received. This was brushed aside.

After the call I cried at my desk incredulous that any company would behave in such a way. We went ahead with the party, but my heart was not in it and the team knew.

The following week I announced to the team that the board had decided to close the bakery. This was to be achieved over a year with death by a thousand cuts as we closed the five bread plants and roll plant in stages.

So, for the next twelve months on instructions from on high myself and the team did what was asked of us without one day of strike action. Each week I personally handed redundancy letters and cheques to those who were made redundant that week.

It broke my heart sending members of the team to a life of almost certain unemployment. We had awards for employing handicapped individuals and we had deaf and dumb, blind, polio survivors, all part of the team. My secretary Maureen had multiple sclerosis and each morning and evening I loaded Maureen into her taxi and packed her wheelchair in the boot of the car.

Finally, after twelve months I locked the main gates after all the team had gone. I was so proud of them as they all left with their heads held high and never once questioned this awful decision.

Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at
gordonboyle@hotmail.com

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