Defined Benefit  

BMW workers to protest 'pension robbery'

BMW workers to protest 'pension robbery'

BMW employees have announced plans to protest in London tomorrow (29 April) against the closure of the company's defined benefit pension scheme.

The protest, over what union Unite has called a "pension robbery", will take place at the German carmaker's UK flagship store on Park Lane in Mayfair. 

It will include Unite members working at BMW plants in Oxford, Hams Hall and Swindon, as well as workers from the Rolls-Royce plant in Goodwood.

The union has also planned six 24-hour strikes over the coming weeks, including a stoppage at Hams Hall next week on Wednesday 3 May and at Rolls-Royce in Goodwood on Friday 5 May.

Unite claimed the closure of the DB scheme, which is due to take effect on 31 May, would leave some members up to £160,000 worse off in retirement.

Unite national officer for BMW Fred Hanna said: "Our members take great pride in building the vehicles on display in BMW’s flagship showroom on Park Lane. It is because of their hard work and efficiency that BMW and its shareholders can enjoy bumper profits and record sales."

He went on: "Yet their reward from BMW bosses is the closure of their pension scheme and the potential loss of up to £160,000 in retirement income.

"We will be highlighting this ‘pension robbery’ and the refusal of BMW to talk about affordable options to keep the scheme open when we protest outside the carmaker’s posh Park Lane showroom."

He urged the company to drop its deadline for the pension scheme’s closure and "negotiate a settlement which is good for the business and the workforce".

The union pointed out that BMW Group’s annual net profit had risen by eight per cent to €6.9bn (£5.8bn), and that last year saw a record year for Mini sales, as well as a six per cent rise in Roll-Royce sales.

BMW, which employs 8,000 people in the UK, makes the Mini at its plant in Oxford as well as engines at its Hams Hall plant in Birmingham. Its plant in Swindon makes parts of the Mini.

FTAdviser requested a comment from BMW, but had not received one at time of publication.

james.fernyhough@ft.com