Press Report : BMW sheds 850 jobs at MINI

Philip Stafford, Financial Times, 16th February, 2009

MINI production at Cowley
MINI production at Cowley

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/]


  1. Until now BMW will only cut some jobs. I have read in a german car magazine that BMW and Mercedes Benz (Daimler now called) will develope next models together. There was altho standing that BMW and Daimler will work together with GM (Opel).
    Opel should produce the next A and B class for Daimler and produce the next Mini for BMW and Daimler and BMW should develope and build the next big rear drive Opel (Vauxhall).
    That would mean that the old Rover 800/ Rover 75 plant in GB had to close the doors. That means a new Mni built in Germany.
    BMW will hope the the built quality of the Mii could be much better in Germany.
    Until now,the built quality is as good as in the first years of the SD1 production.

  2. @Oliver
    So Oliver, simply put, anything built in Britain is of inferior quality to that in Germany?? Absolute tosh. Apart from being designed for manufacture (i.e. so an idiot could screw parts together), the components themselves are specified to BMWs own standards, in the same way the Honda, Nissan and Toyota define their components’ standards. Those who do assemble the cars are fully trained to the BMW standard too, so to simply say that anything built here is of inferior quality is rubbish.

    Vauxhall/Opel still have trouble with the build quality of their cars EVEN THOUGH they are mostly made in Germany and it partly has something to do with the culture that still persists in GM as a whole group – and most of that comes from the powers that be, failing to move fast enough with the times and up there own game.

  3. i dont no what planet a lot of people derive from .i worked at mg rover for 25 years watching each company come from across the waters and be allowed to steal the technology of each british car manufacturer,we have to blame the gorvernments of this country allowing the demise of the british car manufacturing. it would never happen anywhere for bmw ,after the daylight robbery of the mini they care about no -one and if your in the line of fire be prepared to be exterminated.allowing someone to work for 4 years on an agency then given one hours notice could only be created by our government. again would happen no where else. as for unite and tony woodley [mg rover i rest my case]. a bitter former mg rover employee i no but fact.

  4. I am driving Rover cars since so many years and I have driven Rover cars which were made in the early sixties and I will know the fine building quality of these Rover P4, P5 and P6 cars. I have owned some Rover SD1 and I know what rubbish was coming from the BL plant in the late senenties. My first SD1, it was a car built in 1977, had such a poor building quality that it did not get the mot after two years because of corrosion and technical faults. The later SD1 I had got was built much better. The best Rover I have ever had was a Rover 216GSi with all extrax from 1990. I will drive that car until now and I will get the Austrian mot every year without any problem. I think this building quality was possible with the help of Honda. My other Rover, a 820Si had nearly the same building quality and this car has now covered over 300.000 miles. My last Rover was a 75 of the last series was nearly like my first SD1 and I sold it. I will often drive a new Mini Cooper and that car will be the worst I have ever driven! The car has a poor building quality and the price of the car is really premium. I do not know how BMW could sell something like that. My neigbour has a Nissan which was built in GB and the car bill be very well built. I think BMW will not be able to tell the people who will build the Minis, how they have to built them. My Rover 800 was made from the same people which made the Mini and the Rover 800 was built very well. Why not the Mini!
    The Austrian AA made a Quality test with many cars and the Mini was the last! The Lada was better. I think that says much!
    PS.: At the moment the best German cars wer built by Porsche, Opel and Ford and not by Daimler, BMW and VW!

  5. Whatever people say about what happened to BL/ARG/MG rover the fact remains that we as the western world are in a cycle of recession. Now that whatever industry is left in the UK is now foreign owned does anybody think that when cutbacks and downsizing are required the parent company is going to start trimming the fat at home first? I know BL swallowed up a large amount of taxpayers money in it’s time but suppose if BMW, VW or Mercedes-Benz hit the skids tommorrow who here thinks that the German Government would sit back and let these firms go under the way our Government did with MG Rover? The products they made were not perfect by a long chalk but as someone else has previously stated rival companies have made some appalling products as well (Mk 5 escort, 2CV, Fiat 126 to name but a few) but we seem all too happy to sit back and say the UK car industry deserved what happened to it. We as a nation seem to have a history of sorting out viability in new inovations (Comet airliner, Concorde,Railways,Hovercrafts, FWD cars as we know them and yet other countries have sat back , watched us spend time, money and lives ironing out the problems and now everybody else is laughing at us because for whatever reason we couldn’t make these milestones in engineering pay and everybody else has profited from our pioneering work.
    How has we allowed this to happen to our once great nation?

  6. Car production in the UK like car plants world wide are in deep recession, it doesn’t matter what car these manufacturers produce or even there quality people are not going to buy, especially when incomes are likely to be either hit by unemployment or people being very prudent with their money. This unfortunately doesn’t help the car employee who may be laid off or made redundant. The only bright side for UK car production is though the January ’09 production figures were down 60% on a year ago, at least 80% went to export. I wonder how this compares to other car manufacturing countries, maybe a plus side to have a weak currency at present!

  7. Wonder about your written German skills Doc? Bit of a cheap shot…

    Yes the Mini layoffs are bad news – but it is a overseas owned company – and they can do with it as they see fit…the UK had its chance – they used to own lots – remember? but a combination of poor quality, inept management, lack of investment killed it – all of – wether it be shipbuilding (too expensive) steel (unproductive) coal mining (cheaper from overseas) cotton (too expensive, not enough investment) the list goes on and on and on….its not just cars….

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