SWINDON’S BMW employees are resisting a move to Oxford despite being offered £6,500 each to make the 33-mile drive every morning. So far only four employees at Swindon’s Mini plant in Stratton have accepted the deal, even though BMW have been trying to tempt 150 employees to move eastward for almost a month.
Those being asked to move are from the press shop, which works with car panels, and the sub assembly department. John McGookin, regional organiser for Unite, said the union was against any changes to the current deal and said that if BMW had extra work the firm should send it to Swindon.
He said workers could claim up to £6,500 in travel expenses over a two-year period depending on how far they have to travel. He said that if 150 employees do eventually leave, Swindon staff numbers will have dropped 72 per cent from 3,000 to 850 in five years.
Mr McGookin said: “The changes are to occur in the sub-assembly section, but only four people have taken the deal so far over the past week. We are resisting the change from Swindon to Oxford. If they want to ship us around then they should be prepared to bus staff during company hours, otherwise they can bring the work here.
“We are a flexible staff and a viable option for work to be ushered in. In terms of the cuts in Oxford, let’s just say this, when they sneeze we get a cold.” A 39-year-old sub-assembly worker who lives in North Swindon said staff feared BMW would eventually close the plant. He said: “No-one wants to move to Oxford. The deal is simply not good enough, so people aren’t likely to take it, until they do better. “We are a loyal staff and should not be threatened with plant closure. I think associates on the shop floor in general are fed up with the way they are being treated by BMW. It is not a happy place at the moment.
“All the other car companies have been honest but we feel as though we are being strung along. We are happy to still have jobs, don’t get me wrong, but there are ways to deal with employees.”
Rebecca Baxter, a spokeswoman for Mini, said the redeployment scheme would see transferred staff paid £1,500 upfront and further petrol funding depending on how far each employee would be driving to get to the Oxford Mini plant. She denied the £6,500 figure.
She said: “We have been asking workers to take this option. There is no set date for them to move and no current plans for redundancies.“ Ms Baxter added that at the end of March the new Mini convertible would be hitting the market, but could not confirm how many workers had taken up the transfer offer. The job cuts come off the back of a slump in Mini sales with he company seeing a fall in sales of 35 per cent since January 2008.
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