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BWW workers to hold protest in dispute over pensions

BMW workers from the Cowley plant in Oxfordshire and the Swindon plant are joining other workers to stage a protest outside one of the car maker's prestige showrooms as part of a dispute over pensions.

Members of the Unite union will demonstrate at the site in London's Park Lane today ahead of a fresh wave of strikes in protest at the closure of their final salary pension scheme.

Workers have staged two days of walkouts and will take six more days of industrial action in the coming weeks.

Workers are holding a protest in a dispute over pensions Credit: ITV Meridian

"Our members take great pride in building the vehicles on display in BMW's flagship showroom on Park Lane. It is because of their hard work and efficiency that BMW and its shareholders can enjoy bumper profits and record sales.

"Yet their reward from BMW bosses is the closure of their pension scheme and the potential loss of up to £160,000 in retirement income. We will be highlighting this 'pension robbery' and the refusal of BMW to talk about affordable options to keep the scheme open when we protest outside the car maker's posh Park Lane showroom.

"We urge BMW's bosses to listen to its world-class workforce, drop its deadline for the pension scheme's closure and negotiate a settlement which is good for the business and the workforce."

– Unite national officer Fred Hanna

Former BMW worker jailed for defrauding company of £6 million

He turned to crime to fund a lavish lifestyle. Tonight, though, he is behind bars. Accountant Johannes Franken siphoned off almost six million pounds from his employers - BMW Mini at Cowley, in Oxfordshire. He used it to buy luxury cars and a diving school in Mauritius. Divya Kohli reports on how an employee took his car maker bosses for a ride.

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Three million Minis for BMW

A landmark for Mini Credit: ITV Meridian

Mini has announced the production of its three millionth car since 2001, and its two millionth international export.

The three millionth MINI to be produced is a 5-door Hatch Cooper S and has a special exterior design to celebrate its heritage and its British roots.

A £750 million investment is underway across three of BMW Group's UK manufacturing facilities.

Highlights include a new 1,000-robot bodyshop at Plant Oxford and the installation of new body manufacturing technologies including laser welding at Plant Swindon.

Union reacts to Mini investment

Unite has hailed BMW Group's decision to invest £250m into its UK plants in Oxford, and Swindon as a "ray of sunshine".

The company announced the cash boost during a visit by Business Secretary Vince Cable this morning.

Tony Burke, Unite assistant general secretary, said: "This major boost in investment is tribute and reward for the dedicated and hard-working workforce at Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall.

"The British car industry is once again a ray of sunshine in gloomy times for British manufacturing.

"The UK has the potential to be a manufacturing success story, if we had a Government which was prepared to roll its sleeves up and intervene to support employers up and down the UK."

Major investment for region's Mini plants

The production line at the BMW UK Mini plant in Oxford Credit: PA

BMW is to invest £250m in its UK Mini factories, including those in Swindon and Oxford, over the next three years.

The announcement was made during a visit by Business Secretary Vince Cable to the Oxford plant, on the day when the Olympic Torch Relay will also pass.

The announcement comes on top of a £500m investment promise in June last year.

BMW said the investment showed its commitment to Britain "as a vital manufacturing base".

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New pay offer in Mini dispute

BMW has announced a new pay offer following discussions with the UNITE union, in the hope that a strike at its Mini plant in Oxford can be avoided. In a joint statement the company said:

Following constructive and productive discussions, we have reached agreement on a pay offer which will be recommended for acceptance by the union.

The details of this offer are being put to the workforce today and a ballot will follow subsequently. The offer is as follows: 4.5% increase in base pay effective 1 January 2012, 2.3% increase in base pay effective 1 January 2013."

– Rebecca Baxter, External Communications Manager