Brent in jobs pledge after Honda closes Swindon branch
Enigmatic paper industry titan promises ‘jobs for all’ as car plant operatives face axe
Wernham Hogg’s Slough chief David Brent has this morning extended a lifeline to the entire workforce of Honda UK Swindon, after they learned late yesterday that they were all to be struck off.
We spoke with the celebrated businessman and thought leader, Brent, over coffee in Taplow this afternoon.
‘Sure’ Brent mused, ‘people are saying to me: ‘‘Ooooooo David. Brexit. Aren’t you worried? Are you sure you should be taking on all these extra people with all this uncertainty around? And I say this: if you’re walking down the high street and you see Top Man up in flames. Burton’s. Or one of the other big names… do you run away from the inferno? .... No. You run INTO to the flames. And you don’t run in and start taking stock off the hangers.... nooo. You run in and offer people YOUR clothes.’ ‘Starting’ he then said ‘with the women and the children.’ ‘And anyone who’s disabled.’ ‘Or blind.’ ‘Or with that thing that gives you a gimpy hand.’ ‘And what surprises me’ he said ‘is that the Japanese – over in Tokyo, counting the money, while I’m down here amongst the flies and the starvation…. Is that they can’t see it’’
We ask Mr Brent how he plans to find positions for everyone.
‘Easy’ he said ‘Sure, we’ll go from twenty-or-so employees to three and a half thousand. But it’s all part of what I call Structural Fluidity. I can get at least two in the warehouse with Anton. There are openings in Supply, in Deliveries, in Costing..... We’re always on the lookout for sales reps. And besides’ he said ‘I’m still having to do all of my own filing. And everyone else can just float’
We ask Brent how he thinks things might have gone wrong for Honda.
‘The problem with Japan’ he said ‘Is that it’s all karaoke, manga and sleeping pods. I’ve seen it on Stacey Dooley Investigates. That’s no way to motivate, or to keep a team inspired. Especially not in Swindon. Laughter’ he said ‘that’s what matters. Laughter and the vibe of the place.’ ‘And I’ll tell you something else!’ he asserted ‘if Nissan in Sunderland went down the shitter tomorrow, I’d have them all around here as well’
‘Although…’ he then said ‘only the ones who we could actually understand. Because they can be a bit.… a bit like those little whistley animals in The Clangers from around there, can’t they.’ ‘And before you ask!’ he said, ‘No. I haven’t told head office. Why should I?’ ‘They’d be all: ‘‘oooh David, you don’t have the authority. You don’t know what you’re doing’’ ‘‘We can’t afford it and there’s nothing for any of these people to do’’
‘Sue me’ he said.
Brent intertwined his fingers and leaned inward.
‘Tell me this’ he said ‘Does a struggling assembly worker turn up in Civic? Does he turn up in a Jazz? No. He turns up in a Bugatti. It’s all about perception. About vision. About innovation. And I think that’s where Honda have gone wrong.’
We inform Brent that senior figures at Honda’s headquarters in Minato, Japan, were reportedly furious at the manner of his recent statements on the corporation.
‘Well’ Brent said, tightening his tie into his throat and drawing his fingers slowly down over his goatee ‘I’d like to see them come up against karate’
Brent then lifted his Cuban heels out from underneath him, and rested them cross-legged on the table-top. ‘Fact:’ he said ‘I called the head of the Honda Corporation about a week ago. Spoke to his PA or secretary or something: a lovely lady called ‘Yokito’ or ‘Komoshi’ or something. I said ‘‘I’d like to speak to the man at the top of the pile. It’s David Brent. From Slough’’
‘I left my number. Explained that it was important. But he never got back to me.’ ‘Which’’ Brent then added, winking ‘I think says a lot….’
“And anyway’ he then said ‘I found the part I needed on e-Bay anyway. So, it didn’t even matter in the end’