BMW workers to stage first UK strikes over pensions

Workers at BMW’s UK plants are taking strike action over plans to close the company’s final salary pension scheme.

Unite the union will call eight 24 hour strikes across four sites, starting on 19 April and ending on 24 May.

It will be the first time that staff at BMW’s UK operations have staged a walk-out.

BMW employs about 8,000 people and Unite says that the action could involve up to 3,500 workers who are in final-salary pension schemes.

Unite claims that BMW’s intention to close the pension scheme by 31 May could reduce employees’ retirement income by £160,000.

BMW said it was “disappointed” at the prospect of industrial action.

The German company said it had always provided “excellent pensions” for staff but wanted to protect future pension provision and to improve the competitiveness of its UK operations.

The company has put a number of options on the table to help employees transition to the proposed new pension arrangements and it remains open to negotiation,” BMW said.

Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey, urged the company to step back from its May deadline to find a settlement.

“Bosses in the UK and BMW’s headquarters in Munich cannot feign surprise that it’s come to this point. Unite has repeatedly warned of the anger their insistence to railroad through the pension scheme’s closure would generate and the resulting industrial action,” he said.

“BMW’s bosses need to get their heads out of the sand and recognise their pension pinching plans will not go unchallenged.”

The strikes will take place at several sites. BMW makes the Mini at Cowley near Oxford and Rolls-Royce cars at Goodwood.

It also manufactures engines at Hams Hall, Birmingham and has a plant that makes parts for the Mini at Swindon.

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