Workers at BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars are to hold a series of 24-hour strikes at factories across the UK in a dispute about pensions.
Unite said the eight strikes would significantly disrupt production of Minis and called on BMW, the owner of Mini and Rolls-Royce, to hold talks to resolve the dispute.
The trade union claims workers could lose up to £160,000 in retirement benefits because of BMW’s plans to close its final-salary pension schemes by the end of May.
The industrial action will impact the Mini factory in Cowley, Oxfordshire, one of the biggest in the country, as well as BMW’s engine plant at Hams Hall in Warwickshire, a pressings plant in Swindon, and Rolls-Royce’s factory in Goodwood, Sussex. They are scheduled to take place between 19 April and 24 May.
This week members of Unite voted overwhelmingly in favour of the strikes.
Len McCluskey, the union’s general secretary, 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.
“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.”
BMW enjoyed a record financial performance in 2016, despite being engulfed in the scandal over cheating diesel emissions tests in the US. Sales of its vehicles rose by 5.3% to 2.4m, including a 6.4% increase for Mini and a 6% rise for Rolls-Royce. Net profits rose 8% to €6.9bn (£5.9bn).