Len McCluskey, the leader of Britain’s biggest union, Unite will meet with the most senior figures in BMW today (Monday 20 February) in a bid to avert industrial action by the workforce over plans that would see the carmaker’s pension scheme for UK workers diminished.
The meeting, which takes place at BMW’s Cowley plant, follows Unite’s warning issued last week that ‘serious industrial action will occur’ involving over 7,000 car workers if the company continues to ignore their concerns and ploughs on with plans to close the defined benefit scheme by 31 May 2017.
The manufacturer’s determination to press ahead with plans to close the scheme follows a consultation which Unite has branded a ‘sham’, and despite an affordable alternative being presented by the union which would see the pension scheme retained.
Amid mounting anger among the workers who make the iconic Mini and Rolls Royce vehicles, and ahead of the meeting with senior BMW figures, Len McCluskey said: “I am pleased that BMW’s senior team responded to my call for a meeting, and I am looking forward to a positive meeting today. We should be able to make headway because there is a viable alternative proposal on the table which would resolve this dispute and avert a damaging strike.
“But I say to BMW, be under no illusions. These workers are angry that their working lifetime savings are being threatened by an employer that is making significant profits, much of this down to the success of the world class models made here in the UK. If the company continues to refuse to listen to reasonable alternatives, this anger will harden.
“My message today to the company is that there is a sensible alternative which could safeguard Unite members’ pensions and work well for the business.
“I urge BMW’s management team to listen because failing to do so will see a ballot for industrial action, and with 96 per cent of Unite’s members indicating that this is the route that they are prepared to take to win justice, the company faces serious disruption.”
Len McCluskey and the Unite negotiating team will meet with Frank Bachmann, managing director BMW UK, Hubert Schurkus, senior vice-president corporate HR, Pepe Amoretti, vice-president corporate HR Europe and Bob Shankley, HR director for BMW UK.
Following the meeting with the senior BMW team, Len McCluskey will meet with Unite’s senior shop stewards to assess progress and consider the union’s next steps.
BMW group’s pensions plans come at the same time as it recorded record profits of approximately £6 billion and shareholders saw their dividends shoot up by 10 per cent on the year before to nearly £2 billion.
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
- 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.