Record-beating BMW faces UK factory strikes

BMW is facing the first strike action in almost 30 years at its Mini plant in Oxford, with the dispute over pay and conditions threatening to overshadow its record quarterly and monthly sales yesterday.

The Unite union said 97 per cent of the 2,000 workers balloted had spurned a pay rise of 2.2 per cent because the deal had “more strings than a puppet show”, and would now vote on industrial action.

Staff at the Oxford plant last went out on strike in 1984, when Rover owned the factory.

BMW’s latest sales figures painted a rosier picture of the carmaker’s fortunes yesterday, with the company breaking its monthly and quarterly records thanks to a buoyant market in China.

Group sales increased by 11.2 per cent compared with the same quarter last year, to 425,528 vehicles.

BMW said its 1 Series model and a good start for the revamped 3 Series had contributed to the jump.

The Rolls-Royce and Mini brands owned by BMW also reported record sales.

The company sold 80,014 cars in China, 37 per cent more than a year ago. BMW said that overall, March had been its best month ever, with 185,728 vehicles sold.

“These outstanding results are due to our attractive, young model range and our strategy of healthy, balanced growth across the globe,” said BMW sales chief Ian Robertson.

“The BMW Group achieved an all-time high in sales last month and the best quarter in its history,” added Robertson.

BMW reaffirmed its plans to grow faster than the market and achieve new record sales for its BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands.

China overtook the US as the group’s largest single market in the first quarter, cementing its place as the biggest driver of growth for the premium car industry.

Frankfurt-listed shares in BMW rose 2.5 per cent to close at €66.71 yesterday.