BMW workers making engines and the iconic Mini and Rolls-Royce motorcars have overwhelmingly backed industrial action over plans to close their final salary pension scheme the country’s largest union Unite, announced today (March 31).
93 per cent of those voting in the ballots backed strike action with 97 per cent voting for industrial action short of strike over the planned closure of the BMW (UK) operations pension scheme, which could see some UK workers lose up to £160,000 in retirement income.
Those taking part in the four ballots were Unite members in the BMW (UK) operations pension scheme and combined turnout was 72 per cent.
Unite representatives from BMW Group’s sites at Cowley, Goodwood, Hams Hall and Swindon, where the ballots were held, will meet in the coming days to discuss possible dates for strike action involving up to 3,500 workers. In the meantime Unite urged BMW to reflect on the results and enter meaningful talks over affordable options to keep the pension scheme open.
BMW’s plan to close the pension scheme by May 31, 2017 comes as figures earlier in the month showed a surge in BMW Group’s net profit of eight per cent to €6.9bn, as well as a record year for Mini sales and a six per cent rise in Roll-Royce sales.
Announcing the result at BMW’s Hams Hall plant in the West Midlands Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “BMW needs to reflect on this extraordinary vote in favour of industrial action and the real possibility that its UK workforce will strike for the first time under its ownership in the coming weeks.
“It won’t be a step which will be taken lightly, but the vote in favour of action shows a determination by workers who have contributed massively to BMW’s record revenues to stand up for their pensions.
“Unite members have been the driving force behind record sales and a surge in profits,” he added. “Repaying their loyalty by breaking pension promises and robbing them of tens of thousands of pounds of retirement income is a disgraceful way for BMW bosses to behave.
“Over the coming days Unite representatives will be considering our next steps and what form industrial action could take. We would urge BMW to stop pinching pensions and negotiate a settlement which is good for the business and good for the workforce.”