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BMW workers at Hams Hall to stage 24-walkout

Members of trade union Unite plough on with plans to hold first of up to five days of industrial action in pensions row

BMW workers at Hams Hall are ploughing ahead with plans to hold up to five days of strike action.

Members of the Unite trade union will begin the first 24-hour walkout at 6am tomorrow at the Coleshill plant in a ongoing dispute with management over the company's final-salary pension scheme.

Unite said it was the first time strike action had been held by BMW's UK workforce and comes as the manufacturer intends to close its final-salary pension scheme to future benefits by the end of May.

It is believed it could see some workers lose up to £160,000 in retirement income.

There are eight separate 24-hour strikes planned across four plants with Hams Hall workers also due to walk out on May 3, 16, 18 and 24.

This will be coupled with a work-to-rule policy and a ban on overtime.

Hams Hall plant is used to manufacture small, low-emission and efficient engines and also three major engine components.

The other sites affected by the strike action are in Swindon, Cowley in Oxfordshire and the Rolls-Royce plant in Goodwood, West Sussex.

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The union has around 900 members working at Hams Hall with 640 in BWM's affected pension scheme while around 3,500 staff are expected to take part in the industrial action across the four sites.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "BMW's refusal to discuss affordable options to keep the pension scheme open means that, for the first time, its UK workforce will be taking strike action.

BMW workers stage industrial action outside the Hams Hall plant in Coleshill
BMW workers stage industrial action outside the Hams Hall plant in Coleshill

"It is very much the last resort for a world-class workforce that takes great pride in making the iconic Mini and world renowned Rolls-Royce motor cars and one which could have been avoided if BMW's bosses had been willing to negotiate meaningfully with Unite.

"Instead, BMW has paid lip service to the concerns of a workforce whose hard work and efficiency has helped the German carmaker achieve record sales amid surging profits and sought to pinch their pensions.

"Bosses should be under no illusion of the determination of Unite members to defend their pensions. They are in this for the long haul."

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

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

"Like many businesses, we know 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."

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