Philip Stafford, Financial Times, 16th February, 2009
BMW confirmed on Monday that 850 jobs will be cut and operating times shortened at its Mini manufacturing plant at Cowley in Oxfordshire in response to the global economic recession.
As of 2 March, the plant, which employs 4700, will move to a shift pattern of three days a week to two and cut operating times to five days a week from seven. The plant is one of the centrepieces of the UK car industry. It is the only one in the world where the iconic Mini car is built and is the third largest car producer in the UK, manufacturing 800 cars a day.
Like other countries, the UK has been badly hit by the global recession. Last week Bentley, the luxury carmaker, cut 10 per cent of its workforce, around 220 jobs, while Ford, Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover have also radically pared back their workforces.
Against this backdrop the company felt that a review of its shift patterns was necessary. This decision has not been taken lightly
The news comes as a blow as the Mini celebrates its 50th anniversary in August of this year. Job cuts had been expected with MINI’s German parent BMW holding talks with the union Unite for several weeks about changing the current work pattern of three shifts a day for seven days a week.
‘While Mini has been weathering the economic downturn, it is not immune from the challenges of the current situation,’ the group said in a statement. ‘Against this backdrop the company felt that a review of its shift patterns was necessary. This decision has not been taken lightly.’
Most of the jobs to be cut will be agency workers although some will be retained, the group said. It also confirmed that BMW Group associate workers on the weekend shift will be redeployed to one of the weekday shifts.
BMW said the cuts would have ‘minimal impact’ on its other UK production bases, at Swindon and Hams Hall.
[Source: Financial Times/FT.com]