A 24 hour strike by BMW workers making car engines and the Mini was being solidly supported today (Wednesday 19 April), as workers mounted picket lines and production lines lay idle over the luxury carmaker’s plans to close the final salary pension scheme by 31 May.
The stoppage by members of Britain’s largest union, Unite, is the first ever by BMW’s UK workforce and involves members of the BMW (UK) operations pension scheme working at BMW plants in Cowley, Hams Hall in the West Midlands and Swindon.
Warning of continuing disruption, Unite urged the German carmaker to drop its deadline for the closure of the pension scheme and its refusal to discuss affordable options to keep the scheme open.
Today’s action is the first in a series of eight 24 hour strikes hitting all four of BMW’s UK plants over the next five weeks, including Rolls-Royce in Goodwood where workers plan to walk out for the first time on Friday 5 May (see notes).
Visiting picket lines today, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke said: “Today’s solidly supported strike should serve as a wake-up call to BMW’s bosses and underlines the determination of Unite members to defend their hard earned pensions.
“BMW workers are deeply alarmed by the company’s plans which could see some of them lose up to £160,000 in retirement income. BMW bosses need to get their heads out of the sand and recognise this is no way to treat a workforce, which has helped deliver record profits and record sales of the Mini and Rolls-Royce motorcars.
“We would urge BMW’s bosses to listen to its world class workforce, drop its deadline for the pension scheme’s closure and negotiate a settlement which is for the business and the workforce. Otherwise the alternative will be more industrial action over the coming weeks and continuing disruption to production.”
BMW’s plan to close the pension scheme by 31 May 2017 comes as latest figures showed a surge in BMW Group’s net profit of eight per cent to €6.9 billion, as well as a record year for Mini sales and a six per cent rise in Roll-Royce sales.
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
The strike action on Wednesday 19 May will be followed by seven further 24 hour stoppages as follows:
- 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 is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.