UK BMW Workers Suspend Strikes to Mull Over Pension Offer

British employees of the automaker have been on industrial action since April.

BMW workers in the UK have decided to suspend their strike over the closure of the final salary pension plan in order to consider an offer from the automaker to settle the dispute, according to the workers’ labor union Unite.

Three 24-hour strikes that had been scheduled for May 18, May 21, and May 24 were suspended while workers at BMW plants in Cowley, Goodwood near Chichester, Hams Hall in the West Midlands, and Swindon mull over the proposal.

Unite said that because it wants its members to consider the detail of the offer first, Unite will not be sharing the details of the offer with the media until after the workers have a chance to vote on it.

“While Unite is not recommending the offer, as it will have different outcomes for different people and their pensions, members should be proud that by standing together, they have forced BMW into making this offer,” said Unite National Officer for BMW Fred Hanna in a statement. “Without the action that Unite members have taken and the resolve they have shown in recent weeks, BMW would not have made this latest offer.”

Unite said its members will be consulted, and have the opportunity to vote on the matter at workplace meetings until June 9.

The strike arose over the planned closure of the defined benefit pension scheme by the end of May, which Unite said could result in auto workers losing as much as £160,000 ($207,000) over the course of their retirement. The strikes began in April, and involved some 3,500 BMW workers. In recent weeks, there have been four walkouts in protest of the pension closures at all four plants, bringing car production lines to a standstill, according to Unite.

In September, BMW announced plans to close its two defined benefit pension plans to future contributions, and move the employees over to a defined contribution pension plan. The move affected 5,000 workers at all of BMW’s UK bases, including Oxford, Swindon, the Rolls-Royce plant at Goodwood near Chichester in West Sussex, Hams Hall near Birmingham, and Farnborough in Hampshire.



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