BMW group car workers who make the iconic Mini and prestigious Rolls-Royce begin voting in a consultative action ballot today (October 31) amid accusations of a ‘pensions robbery’ over the carmaker’s plans to rush through the closure of their final salary pension scheme.
The ballot, involving over 5,000 Unite members across sites in Cowley, Farnborough, Goodwood, Hams Hall in the West Midlands and Swindon, follows mounting anger over the plans which could see workers losing thousands of pounds a year in retirement income.
Despite enjoying record profits of £5.7bn last year and handing out a massive £1.8bn in dividends to shareholders, BMW bosses have expressed a refusal to negotiate meaningfully over keeping the scheme open.
The consultative ballot closes on Monday, November 7 and could be followed by a full statutory strike ballot.
In recent weeks, AWE Plc (the Atomic Weapons Establishment), Gatwick Airport Ltd, US multinational Honeywell and the Post Office have all announced that they are planning to close their defined benefit pensions. Unite has pledged to fight the move to close the final salary pension schemes by all these organisations.
“BMW workers in the UK have worked hard to deliver record profits for the company and view a cut in their future pension as no different than a cut in their pay packet,” said Unite national officer Tony Murphy.
“In the last year alone BMW generated profits in excess of £5bn, dishing out £1.8bn to shareholders,” he added. “BMW’s rush to close the final salary pension scheme is short term opportunism which will rob world class carmakers of the future retirement they have worked hard for.
“Over the coming days we will be urging our members to vote yes to action in the consultative ballot to stop the pensions robbery and call on BMW to honour its pension promises and negotiate meaningfully over keeping the pension scheme open.”