WORKERS at car giant BMW have voted overwhelmingly to accept a revised offer over the closure of their final salary pension scheme, ending the threat of more strikes, said the Unite union today.

A total of 81.5 per cent of Unite members working at BMW’s car plants in Swindon, Cowley, Goodwood near Chichester, and Hams Hall in the West Midlands backed a revised offer bringing a long running pensions dispute to an end.

The revised offer sees the closure of the final salary pension scheme and workers moved into a defined contribution pension scheme.

Unite shop stewards did not make a recommendation on the deal, which also includes greater flexibility on the timings of transitional payments totaling £22,000 over three years.

Alternatively, members can opt for a transitional payment of £25,000 spread over three years to be paid into their new defined contribution scheme.

BMW initially offered workers transitional payments worth £7,000 in an effort to solve the dispute, which saw four walkouts involving workers at all four plants and brought engine, Mini and Rolls-Royce motor car production lines to a halt.

Unite national officer Fred Hanna said: “Unite members have overwhelmingly backed the revised pension offer bringing this long running dispute to an end.

“BMW initially thought it could railroad its pension changes through with transitional payments of just £7,000.

"It’s testament to the resolve of Unite members and their solidarity that the carmaker was forced to more than triple these payments and give additional guarantees.

“BMW’s UK workforce is among the most efficient and skilled in the auto industry. We look forward to working with BMW to ensure the world beating Mini and Rolls-Royce motor cars go from strength to strength.”

John McGookin, Unite representative at the Swindon plant, said: “This is a fairly emphatic result but behind it is disappointment that the scheme will no longer exist.

“It’s disappointing that we see the end of a final salary scheme in the car industry. We’re talking the demise of final salary schemes in the UK.”

The pensions dispute had seen a series of 24-hour strikes at four BMW car plants, making Mini and Rolls-Royce vehicles for the German car giant.

A spokesman for BMW said: “We are pleased that the company’s offer has been accepted by the majority of Unite members who took part in the union ballot.

"This outcome follows lengthy negotiations between the company and employee representatives since September last year.

“It is now intended that employees currently in our ‘Defined Benefit’ pension scheme will join the company’s ‘Defined Contribution’ (DC) pension scheme from October 2017.

“The DC scheme, which has market-leading company contributions of up to 16 per cent, was launched in early 2014 for new starters and already has more than 2,000 members across the UK.

"We believe that our pension proposals are fair and will help to ensure our competitiveness as a business, which is ultimately in the long-term interest of all our employees.”