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May 12, 2021

BMW refutes union Plant Oxford claims

The Unite union claims workers at BMW's Plant Oxford, which produces the Mini, are being threatened with being unpaid as a result of the company's refusal to use the furlough scheme to cover wages during the ongoing COVID-related semiconductor stoppages.

However, although the semiconductor shortage is directly related to the Covid-19 pandemic, BMW has decided that it will not use the government’s job retention scheme to furlough workers and ensure they are paid during such stoppages, the union said.

Instead the company is looking to alter existing collective agreements, which will weaken workers’ terms and conditions, it added.

“BMW has said that unless Unite agrees to the changes to existing collective agreements, the workers will be unpaid. This is despite BMW having emphasised on numerous occasions that they are highly profitable, have a full order book and that it is only the COVID-related stoppages that are stopping production.”

Unite regional officer Scott Kemp said: “BMW is attempting to use the semiconductor shortage to undermine the existing terms and conditions of its workforce.

“Unite has been attempting to resolve this problem through negotiation, currently without success.

“Unite urges BMW to reconsider its position on furlough and to return to the negotiating table on this issue and agree a deal which is fair to its dedicated workforce who produce a world class product.”

BMW said in a statement emailed to just-auto: “As a result of the global lack of availability of semiconductor components, an issue that has been affecting the entire automotive industry for several months, it has been necessary for Plant Oxford to stand down a number of production shifts. (Friday 30 April, Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 May; Thursday 13 and Friday 14 May; Thursday 20 and Friday 21 May). We are monitoring the situation very closely and are in constant communication with our associates and suppliers.

“BMW Group was surprised to read the press release from Unite, as the company is in advanced negotiations with the trade union regarding potential arrangements to ensure that the monthly base pay of associates is maintained during these current stand downs, including those that have already taken place. It is anticipated these negotiations will be concluded in the near future and details of what is agreed will be communicated by the end of this week at the very latest.”

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