Belfast Telegraph

Workers at BMW to stage series of strikes amid row over pensions

Workers at car giant BMW are to stage a series of eight 24-hour strikes from later this month in a dispute over pensions.

Members of Unite will walk out at different locations from April 19 until May 24, following a huge vote in favour of industrial action.

Unite said the strikes will "significantly disrupt" production of cars including the Mini.

The union said closure of the BMW occupational pension scheme by the end of May could see some workers lose up to £160,000 in retirement income.

The 24-hour stoppages stretching over five weeks will hit BMW sites in Cowley, Hams Hall and Swindon, as well as the Rolls-Royce factory at Goodwood, on the following dates:

Wednesday April 19 - Cowley, Hams Hall and Swindon.

Sunday April 23 - Cowley and Swindon.

Wednesday May 3 - Hams Hall.

Friday May 5 - Goodwood.

Tuesday May 16 - Cowley, Goodwood, Hams Hall and Swindon.

Thursday May 18 - Cowley, Goodwood, Hams Hall and Swindon.

Sunday May 21 - Cowley and Swindon.

Wednesday May 24 - Goodwood and Hams Hall.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "BMW's refusal to talk about affordable options to keep the pension scheme open means a sizeable chunk of its UK workforce will be taking strike action for the first time in the coming weeks.

"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.

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

"BMW's UK workers have contributed significantly to a record year in revenues and sales for the carmaker. They deserve better than broken pension promises and the loss of tens of thousands of pounds in retirement income.

"I urge BMW to step back from its May deadline for the pension scheme's closure and negotiate seriously to find a settlement which is good for the business and good for the workforce."

A company statement said: " BMW Group has always prided itself in providing excellent pensions for its staff and wants to act now to protect future pension provision and to help improve the cost competitiveness of the UK as a manufacturing base.

"A number of planned meetings have taken place since the start of consultation on the proposed pension changes and the company is disappointed by Unite's notification of industrial action.

"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."

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