Car workers struck at four plants around Britain on Tuesday to stop BMW Group bosses’ closure of their pension scheme.
Strikes hit Mini plants in Cowley (Oxford) and Swindon, Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, Sussex, and the BMW engine plant in Hams Hall, near Birmingham.
It was the Unite union members’ first coordinated strike across all four sites, and another was planned on Thursday this week.
There was a great mood on the picket line in Cowley, where the strike brought production to a standstill.
In lively discussions a few strikers, particularly older workers who had taken part in the struggles of the 1970s, argued for tactics beyond those the union is proposing.
One striker told Socialist Worker that the pension closure was “the tip of the iceberg” after years of cutbacks for workers.
John said, “I’ve got 14 years until I retire if it’s at 60. If we lose the scheme I may have to work until 67.”
Philip added, “I’m due to retire next year so I won’t be affected, but I’m striking on principle and in solidarity with my workmates.”
BMW made £6 billion profit last year and gave £2 billion to shareholders—yet it insists it needs to cut thousands of pounds from workers’ retirement income.
After Thursday’s coordinated strike, another is planned at Cowley and Swindon on Sunday and at Goodwood and Hams Hall on Wednesday of next week.
The scheme is scheduled to close the following week.
The BMW workers are showing it’s possible to resist the pensions onslaught. Trade unionists should show support—and Unite should call more action.