Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 18 April, 2012 - 12:31

Workers at BMW’s Oxford plant have voted by 97% to oppose management’s latest pay offer.

The consultative ballot, which was conducted by the Unite union, polled 2,000 employees.

The pay deal included a basic increase of 2.21%, of which nearly 2% was contingent on working extra hours. Since the ballot, BMW bosses have offered further talks. While “welcoming” the talks, Unite has said it will press on with plans to move to a full ballot for industrial action to win a better deal.

Unite officer Roger Maddison said: “There are more strings to this deal than a puppet show and the workers at BMW will not accept it.

“The majority of the workforce works 11 hour shifts, and more and more productivity demands are being made by BMW. The union never closed the door on talks and we are happy to get back around the table but we are also making preparations to ballot our members for strike action.”

If strike action was to take place, it would be the first at the plant since 1984.

Unilever pensions fight ends in “bitter disappointment”

Members of Unite and USDAW at Unilever have accepted a new pensions offer from bosses, with members of the GMB currently balloting.

If the deal is accepted it would end the long-running battle over the closure of the company’s final salary pensions scheme which saw Unilever workers take unprecedented industrial action.

The new deal does not reverse the closure but make what Unite claims are “significant improvements” to the new career-average scheme which will replace the existing final-salary scheme. The deal also commits Unilever to not making any further changes to the pensions scheme until 2018, and that any future changes must be subjected to full prior consultation with trade unions before being announced.

Ultimately, the deal represents a mitigated defeat for workers.

USDAW official David Johnson said: “While we have achieved some important improvements to the replacement scheme, our members remain angry and bitterly disappointed by Unilever's decision to close the final-salary pension scheme.”

Bullying investigation at Swindon hospital

An enquiry into endemic bullying and harassment of workers at a hospital in Swindon — which has led so far to 18 days of strike action — is set to conclude on 27 April.

Over 100 workers employed by Carillion as auxiliary staff at Swindon General Hospital have been interviewed as part of the investigation, which was one of the strike demands of the workers’ union, the GMB.

The GMB has said that if the investigation does not result in satisfactory measures for dealing with and preventing future management bullying, further strike action is likely.