BMW workers reject pension offer

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Young Socialists members joined BMW carworkers on the picket line in Oxford during their last strike in April
Young Socialists members joined BMW carworkers on the picket line in Oxford during their last strike in April

BMW car workers, in a ballot, the results of which were announced yesterday, have rejected the ‘pension offer’ which would see the closure of the final salary pension scheme.

So far the dispute has seen four strikes involving workers at all four plants, in Cowley, Goodwood near Chichester, Hams Hall in the West Midlands and Swindon, bringing engine, Mini and Rolls-Royce motor car production lines to a standstill.

Three 24 hour strikes scheduled in May were suspended while workers considered the ‘offer’.

The consultative ballot saw the carmaker’s offer rejected by 56.6 per cent. Unite shop stewards from all four BMW plants will be meeting today to discuss what action to take next.

Unite shop stewards did not make a recommendation on the offer, which also included a transitional payment of £22,000 spread over three years that would be subject to tax and national insurance. Commenting, Unite national officer for BMW Fred Hanna said: ‘We would urge BMW bosses to reflect on the result and listen to the workforce by further engaging in meaningful talks with Unite.’

Steve Sargeant Deputy Plant Conveyor for the Oxford Cowley factory told News Line yesterday: ‘There is a meeting taking place to decide action. More strike action is not ruled out. Our mandate from the workforce is for strike action. We have not removed the action short of strike, we still have an overtime ban in place.

‘Car workers are angry because there is a build up of a lot of things. Some car workers have paid into their pension scheme for thirty odd years. If they are moved on to defined contribution scheme they don’t know exactly what they lose, it is dependent on the economic state which the country is in when they come out.

‘The people that are going to lose big time are the people who are starting, the people who have got their future in front of them, they are the ones who will take the biggest hit.’