Wednesday 5 April 2017

BMW Strikes Set To Halt Mini And Rolls-Royce Production


Workers at BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars are to hold a series of 24-hour strikes at factories across the UK in a dispute about pensions.

The Unite union said the eight strikes would significantly disrupt production of Minis and called on BMW, the owner of Mini and Rolls-Royce, to hold talks to resolve the dispute.

The trade union claims workers could lose up to £160,000 in retirement benefits because of the German company’s plans to close its final-salary pension schemes by the end of May.

BMW employs about 8,000 people in the UK. Unite has said the industrial action, scheduled to take place between 19 April and 24 May, could involve up to 3,500 workers affected by the pension changes.

The strikes will have an impact on the Mini factory in Cowley, Oxfordshire, one of the biggest in the country, as well as BMW’s engine plant at Hams Hall in Warwickshire, a pressings plant in Swindon and Rolls-Royce’s factory in Goodwood, Sussex.

BMW said it was disappointed by the strikes, which were overwhelmingly backed by Unite members in a vote this week.

Len McCluskey, the union’s general secretary, said: “BMW’s refusal to talk about affordable options to keep the pension scheme open means a sizeable chunk of its UK workforce will be taking strike action for the first time in the coming weeks.

“Bosses in the UK and BMW’s headquarters in Munich cannot feign surprise that it’s come to this point. Unite has repeatedly warned of the anger their insistence to railroad through the pension scheme’s closure would generate and the resulting industrial action.

“BMW’s bosses need to get their heads out of the sand and recognise their pension-pinching plans will not go unchallenged. I urge BMW to step back from its May deadline for the pension scheme’s closure and negotiate seriously to find a settlement which is good for the business and good for the workforce.”

BMW notched up a record financial performance in 2016, despite being engulfed in the scandal over cheating diesel emissions tests in the US. Sales of its vehicles rose by 5.3% to 2.4m, including a 6.4% increase for Mini and a 6% rise for Rolls-Royce. Net profits rose 8% to €6.9bn (£5.9bn).

BMW said: “BMW Group has always prided itself in providing excellent pensions for its staff and wants to act now to protect future pension provision and to help improve the cost competitiveness of the UK as a manufacturing base.

“A number of planned meetings have taken place since the start of consultation on the proposed pension changes and the company is disappointed by Unite’s notification of industrial action.

“The company has put a number of options on the table to help employees transition to the proposed new pension arrangements and it remains open to negotiation.”



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