UK BMW Workers Accept Revised Pensions Deal

New offer more than triples payments proposed in rejected offer.

BMW workers in the UK have agreed to accept a revised offer over the closure of their final salary pension plan, said union Unite, which is representing the workers.

The German automaker initially offered UK-based BMW workers transitional payments worth £7,000 ($9,000) in an effort to solve the dispute, which involved four strikes involving workers at all four plants, and brought engine, Mini and Rolls-Royce motor car production lines to a halt.

“Unite members have overwhelmingly backed the revised pension offer,” said Unite national officer Fred Hanna. “BMW initially thought it could railroad its pension changes through with transitional payments of just £7,000.”

Nearly 82% of Unite members working at BMW’s car plants in Cowley, Goodwood, Hams Hall, and Swindon supported the revised offer, which puts to rest the ongoing labor dispute.

The revised offer sees the closure of the final salary pension plan, as workers are moved into what Unite calls “one of the leading defined contribution pension schemes in the auto industry” starting October 2017. The defined contribution plan has a company contribution of up to 16%.

The deal also includes greater flexibility on the timing of transitional payments totaling £22,000 over three years. Alternatively, members can choose a transitional payment of £25,000 made over the course of three years to be paid into their new defined contribution scheme.

“It’s a 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.” said Hanna.

The dispute began last September, when BMW announced plans to close its two defined benefit pension plans to future contributions, and move its employees into a defined contribution pension plan by the end of May 2017. Unite has said that some of its members could lose as much as £160,000 in retirement income.

In April, Unite announced that it would hold eight 24-hour strikes combined with an overtime ban, and work to rule. And in June, the workers rejected a BMW offer that included transitional payments worth £7,000.

“We believe that our pension proposals are fair and will help to ensure our competitiveness as a business, which is ultimately in the long-term interest of all our employees,” said a BMW spokesperson in a statement.

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