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Thursday 20th
posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

STRIKE ACTION at car manufacturer BMW should act as a “wake-up call” to bosses in a row over pensions, Unite warned yesterday.

The 24-hour walkout stopped production of the Mini at Oxford’s Cowley plant.

Engine production at Hams Hall in the West Midlands and the building of parts for the Mini in Swindon ground to a halt as part of the action.

Unite warned that there would be more industrial action and disruption of production over the coming weeks unless bosses were prepared to enter meaningful negotiations over the planned closure of the final-salary pension scheme.

The union have slammed the proposal as a “pension robbery,” saying that the strike action was a “last resort.”

Yesterday’s stoppages were the first in a series of eight planned by Unite members over the next five weeks.

Unite members at the Goodwood plant, which makes Rolls-Royce cars, are set to join the action on May 5.

Workers are angry at the plans, which could deprive some of them of a staggering £160,000 in retirement income at a time when the company is making record profits.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the “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.

He urged BMW bosses 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 motor cars.”

A BMW spokesman said: “Like many businesses, we know that the costs and risks associated with defined benefit pension schemes makes them unsustainable and unaffordable in the long term.”

He claimed the company was making the changes to “protect existing and futures pensions” for all staff and ensure competitiveness.

However, Mr Burke called on BMW bosses to listen to their “world-class workforce” and negotiate an acceptable settlement.

“Otherwise the alternative will be more industrial action over the coming weeks and continuing disruption to production,” he warned.

The next strike is planned for April 23 and the last is due on May 24.