WORKERS at BMW’s Plant Swindon took to the streets yesterday morning in protest at the company’s decision to scrap the employee pension scheme.
With flags and banners held aloft, disgruntled members of staff were out in force from 6am and will be there until 7am today.
As drivers pipped their horns in solidarity, Swindon Unite regional officer John McGookin stressed that the strike was a last resort and he hoped that a compromise would soon be reached.
He said: “The workers are out here today because they believe they are being short changed.
“The company made €6.9bn last year and now they want to close the pension scheme. People are seeing their pension legacies disappear only to be replaced with a scheme which will put them at a huge disadvantage.”
More than 700 people were involved in the strike action throughout the day.
Workers accused BMW of “pension robbery” and demanded the car maker stops “driving off” with their pensions by forcing through changes which could see some lose up to £160,000 in their retirement income.
Mr McGookin said: “BMW is a multi-billion pound company, so it’s obvious they can afford it.
“They make huge profits every year, they have a highly skilled workforce and we are made to feel like second class citizens.”
Further strikes at the Stratton plant will take place on Sunday, April 23, Tuesday, May 16, Thursday, May 18 and Sunday, May 21.
A BMW spokesman said: “BMW Group wants to act now to protect future pension provision.
“A number of meetings have taken place since the start of consultation on the proposed pension changes and the company is disappointed by Unite’s industrial action.
“We have put a number of options on the table to help employees transition to the proposed new pension arrangements and it remains open to negotiation.”
After just 90 minutes on the picket line, police were called to reports that a car, thought to be driven by a non-striking member of staff, had driven aggressively into the picket line at Gate Three.
The driver of the car maintained that it was the picket line that was acting aggressively.
An officer was dispatched to speak to both parties.