Unite, Britain's biggest union, has today (24 July) warned BMW that it will not rule out an industrial action ballot if the company pushes ahead with its plans to close its final salary pension scheme to new entrants without proper negotiations and 'copper bottom' guarantees.
The formal consultation period began yesterday (23 July) when BMW wrote to all its staff across four plants at Oxford, Swindon, Hams Hall in Warwickshire and Goodwood in West Sussex that it is planning to close its final salary pension scheme to new entrants and replace it with a defined contribution scheme.
BMW employs around 5,000 workers across its four UK plants. In 2012 BMW made pre tax profits of €7.8 billion and described the year as the 'most successful' in its corporate history (see notes to editors).
Unite national officer Roger Maddison said:
"The company and Unite have been in discussions for several months. However BMW has failed to convince the union that this change will not lead to a closure of the pension scheme to existing employees in the future. In our experience moves to close pension schemes to new entrants always end with an attack on existing employees' pensions. Workers fear that this move by BMW is just the thin end of the wedge.
"Unite will not stand idly by and allow a cash rich company, which is a major success story in the UK, threaten our members' futures. Strike action cannot be ruled out if the company insists on this change without securing a negotiated settlement with copper bottom guarantees."
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland 's largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.
- Commenting on its success in March this year, Norbert Reithofer, the chairman of the board of management of BMW AG said: "The past year has been the most successful year in BMW group’s corporate history, with new high levels achieved for sales volume, revenues and group earnings. We have achieved or surpassed all of our targets for 2012 in the face of very challenging market conditions."