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BMW workers in the UK accept revised pensions offer

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BMW workers in the UK have accepted a revised offer over the closure of their final salary pension scheme following a series of strikes which affected production of engines and the Mini and Rolls Royce cars.

According to Unite, 81.5 per cent of its members employed at BMW’s car plants in Cowley, Goodwood near Chichester, Hams Hall in the West Midlands and Swindon, voted in favour of a revised offer “bringing a long running pensions’ dispute to an end.”

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BMW MINI body plant, Swindon, UK. – Image credit: DeFacto (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
BMW attempted offering employees transitional payments worth £7,000 to resolve the dispute, however, this led to a series of stoppages and brought engine, Mini and Rolls-Royce motor car production lines to a halt.

The revised offer includes “greater flexibility on the timings of transitional payments totaling £22,000 over three years,” Unite said in a statement.

BMW staff had walked out over plans to overhaul their retirement arrangements, which sought to put them on a new contribution-based pension scheme, which Unite said could leave some workers almost £160,000 worse off.

Unite national officer Fred Hanna said: “Unite members have overwhelmingly backed the revised pension offer bringing this long running dispute to an end.

“BMW initially thought it could railroad its pension changes through with transitional payments of just £7,000. It’s testament to the resolve of Unite members and their solidarity that the carmaker was forced to more than triple these payments and give additional guarantees.

“BMW’s UK workforce is among the most efficient and skilled in the auto industry. We look forward to working with BMW to ensure the world beating Mini and Rolls-Royce motor cars go from strength to strength.”

A BMW spokesman said: “We are pleased that the company’s offer has been accepted by the majority of Unite members who took part in the union ballot.

“This outcome follows lengthy negotiations between the company and employee representatives since September last year.

“It is now intended that employees currently in our defined benefit pension scheme will join the company’s defined contribution pension scheme from October 2017.

“The DC scheme, which has market-leading company contributions of up to 16%, was launched in early 2014 for new starters and already has more than 2,000 members across the UK.”