Business: Making Zippers: All the Way with Y.K.K.

"They're bloody sociable, and they're fairer than English bosses ... We pay them back by pulling our weight."

So says Lillian Gallagher, 41, a British housewife who earns $50 a week as a packer at the Japanese-owned Y.K.K. zipper plant in Runcorn, 18 miles from Liverpool. Hers is a rare testimonial in Britain, where labor and management often seem less interested in pulling their weight than tearing each other apart. Yet in Runcorn the prevailing spirit is "All the way with Y.K.K."—the corporate initials of Yoshida, the Japanese firm that is the world's biggest zipper manufacturer.

Troubled by increasing costs and the three...

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