BMW workers vote in favour of strikes at UK factories over final salary pension closure

Oliver Gill
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Prime Minister David Cameron Drives The Two Millionth MINI Off Oxford Plant Production Line
David Cameron visited BMW's Oxford production line in 2011 to celebrate the two millionth car rolling off the ramps (Source: Getty)

The number of Minis and Rolls-Royce cars rolling off the production lines in the UK could be considerably disrupted after thousands of workers balloted in favour of strike action.

BMW, which owns the two iconic brands, is planning to close its UK final salary pension scheme.

Read more: Unite ready to fight BMW over pension changes

A raft of companies have closed their pension schemes to future accrual during 2016. Today, Marks and Spencer said it would do so with ITV being another high profile company to have previously revealed similar plans. The Bavarian-based car firm made its pension closure announcement in September.

The Unite union held a consultative ballot of 4,000 of its members on strike action in response to the BMW decision. It said that 75 per cent of members voted, 96 per cent of them in favour of taking industrial action.

The next step is for Unite to hold a full statutory ballot on strike action, paving the way for production disruption. Unite lambasted BMW in the wake of the ballot result.

“This massive vote in favour of action demonstrates the depth of anger among BMW workers over the carmaker’s pensions robbery," said Unite national officer Tony Murphy.

Read more: Union uproar over ITV plans to close pension scheme

Closing defined benefit or final salary pension schemes is not an uncommon strategy in the UK for managing growing pension liabilities. According to recent research prepared by consultants Lane Clark and Peacock, 27 of the FTSE 100 companies have already employed such a strategy.

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