Belfast Telegraph

BMW workers to stage latest strike in bitter pensions dispute

Workers at car giant BMW are to stage the latest in a series of strikes in a bitter dispute over pensions.

Members of Unite at the Hams Hall factory in the West Midlands will walk out for 24 hours at 6am on Wednesday.

The workers will stage a protest outside the plant as part of Unite's campaign against the closure of a final salary pension scheme at the end of the month.

The strike will be the third in a series of eight stoppages affecting BMW factories at Hams Hall, Cowley near Oxford and Swindon, and the Rolls-Royce site at Goodwood in West Sussex.

Unite says closing the pension scheme could see some workers lose up to £160,000 in retirement income.

National officer Fred Hanna said: "BMW's bosses need to stop burying their heads in the sand and drop their refusal to talk about affordable options to keep the pension scheme open.

"Unite members at BMW have shown a clear determination to defend their pensions. The industrial action to date has brought production of the iconic Mini to a halt and severely disrupted engine production lines.

"This has not been a step taken lightly by our members who take great pride in producing world beating engines and the world class motorcars which have powered BMW's record profits and sales.

"BMW bosses need to stop trying to railroad through the pension scheme's closure and negotiate a settlement which is good for the business and the workforce."

A BMW spokesman said: "We regret the decision by Unite to stage industrial action and are hopeful that the union's representatives will return to the negotiating table.

"We have been in meaningful discussions with Unite since September of last year and have put forward a number of options to help staff transition to the proposed new pension scheme arrangements.

"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.

"The reason we are proposing changes now is so we can protect existing and future pensions for all our staff and ensure the long-term competitiveness of our UK manufacturing operations.

"Our door remains firmly open to further talks with Unite to find a resolution that is mutually acceptable to both sides."

Further strikes will be held before the end of May.