Workers on BMW production lines making Minis and car engines, including in Cowley, went on strike yesterday for the first of a series of 24 hour strikes.
Workers at the car giant voted overwhelmingly to go on strike over a pensions dispute at the end of last month.
Car workers took to the picket lines outside plants from early morning with placards accusing BMW of ‘pension robbery’ and demanding the car maker stops ‘driving off’ with their pensions.
According to workers and the Unite union the pension change could see some lose up to £160,000 in retirement income.
Unite announced eight 24-hour strikes at the start of the month between yesterday and May 24 that will impact up to 3,500 workers in Cowley, Swindon, Goodwood and the Hams Hall plant in the west Midlands.
Picket lines were opened from 6am yesterday at Cowley, Hams Hall and Swindon.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “BMW’s refusal to discuss affordable options to keep the pension scheme open means that for the first time its UK workforce will be taking strike action.
“It is very much the last resort for a world class workforce and one which could have been avoided if BMW’s bosses had been willing to negotiate meaningfully with Unite.
“Instead BMW has paid lip service to the concerns of a workforce whose hard work and efficiency has helped the German carmaker achieve record sales amid surging profits and sought to pinch their pensions.
“BMW’s bosses should be under no illusion of the determination of Unite members to defend their pensions. They are in this for the long haul.”
A BMW spokesperson has previously said: “BMW has always prided itself in providing excellent pensions for its staff and wants to act now to protect future pension provision for its UK workforce.”
Workers at the Cowley plant are also due to strike on four further dates, including Sunday, May 16, 18 and 21.