Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has been accused of "trying it on" with a £240 million hit on its pension fund - sparking an angry broadside from union negotiators.
Roger Maddison, Unite national officer leading the stalled pay negotiations, has accused JLR of "trying to attack people's pensions" and warned that thousands of workers could take industrial action in protest.
His claims came hard on the heels of a 96 per cent rejection of a three-year pay deal worth 14 per cent, with 12,881 members voting against, just 454 voting to accept and 17 spoilt ballot papers.
The Coventry-based Unite official said: "The company is making a fortune and to try and attack people's pensions is not something they tried when they were losing cash.
"It is no secret that they want to make savings of £240 million on their pensions deficit. I think that they have tried it on and it fell flat.
"We do not want to have a dispute but we want a good fair pay deal. We do not want to take action but to protect our pensions and increase our standard of living, we are fully prepared to take action.
"There are people who have worked for 30 years in a car factory, have paid into the pension scheme and they should be able to rely on that pension to fund their retirements. I am not going to suggest that we are going to go on strike for months.
"It may well be an overtime ban, or a work to rule, or non co-operation. It could be half a day or a day's action.
"The shop stewards have done a brilliant job in explaining to our members what the pensions deficit means to them. To get a 96 per cent rejection is the best result we have ever had in the car industry.
"I think the company will realise that they have made a massive mistake. I fully expect them to get back around the negotiating table in a far more positive state of mind."
A statement from Jaguar Land Rover said: "Jaguar Land Rover is very disappointed that the trade unions have voted to reject its pay and conditions offer."