BMW workers in Swindon have flatly rejected a 2.1 per cent pay rise as part of a deal which would have seen an extra hour and a half added to each working day.
Eighty-nine per cent of BMW workers rejected the deal in a postal ballot – a deal which the union claims was a final offer from BMW – and now they are pressing for fresh negotiations.
John McGookin, regional organiser from Unite, which represents 800 out of the 990 staff at BMW’s Mini plant in Stratton, said the deal included a 2.1 per cent pay rise and a hour-and-a-half longer working day, which he claimed was to pay back stand down time that has reached 300 hours for some employees.
“We work to live, not live to work,” he said. “But if these new hours are introduced it will become very hard for employees to see their families.”
“We are the most flexible workforce around, we pride ourselves on that, but we feel as though we are continually being asked to do more and more hours to the detriment of our quality of life.
We are already working an hour extra each day to payback the stand down time. The company want an extra half an hour tagged on, but we can only be asked to do so much – when you’re already waking up at 4am, to get into work, asking to make it 3.30am on a daily basis is a lot to ask.
The money is fine, it is the strings that are attached in terms of hours that have been deemed unworthy of consideration.”
A BMW spokeswoman confirmed the company had received a letter from the union on Friday requesting new meetings. She said:
“The company met with the trade unions on seven occasions and a number of different offers were made. The final offer was a pay increase of 2.1 per cent for a period of 12 months, an alignment of the bonus scheme with the scheme in operation at the Mini plant in Oxford and changes to working arrangements to increase flexibility.
Currently the working time agreement allows for an extra one hour per day and this would have been increased by half an hour under the new agreement. This would have meant that we could bring Swindon’s flexibility closer to that in our Oxford plant to better synchronise production between the two plants and offer more scope for associates to reduce their working time account balances.”
Last February, BMW announced plans to move about 150 workers from Swindon to Oxford, in order to supplement some 850 agency staff made redundant.