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April 6, 2017

BMW UK workers to strike over pensions

British workers at BMW will hold eight 24-hour strikes over the next few weeks to oppose plans by the carmaker to close their final salary pensions.

British workers at BMW will hold eight 24-hour strikes over the next few weeks to oppose plans by the carmaker to close their final salary pensions.

Labour union Unite said the first strike will take place on April 19 at the German automaker’s Hams Hall engine facility near Birmingham, the Mini plant in Oxford and a site in Swindon which makes pressings and parts.

The walkouts over BMW’s plans to close the final salary pension scheme will be the first ever by BMW’s UK workforce and Unite said they follow a 93% vote in favour of strike action by workers at the carmaker’s UK manufacturing sites at Cowley, Goodwood, Hams Hall and Swindon.

Unite said it is expected that production will be “significantly disrupted by the action”, which involves workers from across the four sites who are members of BMW (UK) operations pension scheme.

The 24 hour stoppages stretching over five weeks across all four sites are scheduled as follows:

  • Wednesday 19 April – workers at Cowley, Hams Hall and Swindon strike
  • Sunday 23 April – workers at Cowley and Swindon strike
  • Wednesday 3 May – workers at Hams Hall strike
  • Friday 5 May – workers at Rolls-Royce at Goodwood strike
  • Tuesday 16 May – workers at Cowley, Goodwood, Hams Hall and Swindon strike
  • Thursday 18 May – workers at Cowley, Goodwood, Hams Hall and Swindon strike
  • Sunday 21 May – workers at Cowley and Swindon strike
  • Wednesday 24 May – workers at Goodwood and Hams Hall strike

Unite claims that workers have expressed alarm over BMW’s plans which “could see some UK workers lose up to GBP160,000 in retirement income”. Last week a delegation of BMW UK workers headed the carmaker’s headquarters in Munich to protest and hand in a petition accusing bosses of ‘pension robbery’.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “BMW’s refusal to talk about affordable options to keep the pension scheme open means a sizable 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. BMW’s UK workers have contributed significantly to a record year in revenues and sales for the carmaker. They deserve better than broken pension promises and the loss of tens of thousands of pounds in retirement income.

“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.”

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