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British Mini workers in tea break row with BMW

The Local · 16 Apr 2012, 16:17

Published: 16 Apr 2012 16:17 GMT+02:00

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A shift at the Mini factory in Oxford lasts nine hours and 15 minutes – but that includes two paid tea breaks – one lasting 26 minutes in the morning and one lasting 27 minutes in the afternoon. A half-hour lunch break is not paid.

Weekly business magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported at the weekend that BMW has crossed swords with the Unite trade union at the plant – by planning to reduce the total paid break time by ten minutes a day.

The total of 53 minutes of paid break is the longest anywhere in the BMW group, the magazine said.

There is also conflict over toilet arrangements, with a worker only being allowed to leave the running assembly line to go to the toilet if a co-worker agrees to take over their position.

Reports in the British press that this has led to workers urinating in rubbish bins while at the assembly line were denied by a Mini spokeswoman who said, “We have absolutely no evidence that rubbish bins are being used inappropriately.”

Unite has rejected a BMW offer of a six-percent wage increase saying conditions would reduce its value. The union is threatening a strike which would be the first at the company since 1984.

BMW posted record first quarter results last week, with Mini producing 68,210 vehicles, an increase of 12.1 percent over the same period a year ago, and the most ever in the first quarter of a year.

Story continues below…

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

22:42 April 16, 2012 by Greysuede
BMW rules!
23:19 April 16, 2012 by wood artist
Hmm. Used to get two 15 minute breaks (paid) and a lunch (unpaid) that varied between 30 minutes and an hour. Hard to feel sorry for these folks.

01:10 April 17, 2012 by anaverageguy
Perhaps less tea would result in a reduced need for toileting?

Turned down a 6% pay raise? Wow. 6%?
12:15 April 17, 2012 by Sayer
I now understand what happened to the once-proud UK auto-industry. They peed it all away. Literally. Maybe they'd prefer to in the dole queue?
14:35 April 17, 2012 by jg.
Sounds like British Leyland of the 1970's all over again.

@Sayer: Despite this at BMW Mini, British car manufacturing is on the rise at present and this year, looks set to break records for both manufacturing and export of motor vehicles. All of this is for foreign-owned companies though.
16:06 April 17, 2012 by raandy
Most companies use to give a paid break of 15 min. every four hours. I would think that would be sufficient for these workers

@Chango,whats up with the English?, I can not make head nor tails out of what you wrote. Is English your mother tongue?
16:27 April 17, 2012 by Al uk
@raandy what Chango has written makes perfect sense to me. Is English your mother tongue?

The workers were objecting to the school like practice of having to raise their hands when they needed the toilet.
20:15 April 17, 2012 by mapezzul
It is laughable that all of these so called news outlets are making the same mistake with MINI production numbers and how they are up. The reason that MINI's numbers are up has little to do with the output of plant Oxford in the UK. That plant is stagnate because of the workforce and space constraints.

BMW Group has Magna Steyr in Austria contract building the MINI Countryman- which accounts for the increase in sales volume. They are lucky that BMW is even building the MINI in Oxford and the amount of money it has spent there to update the facility.

BMW can produce the cars in Germany or Austria or the US if they have to. It is just amusing to see that the workers in England expect tea breaks, paid none the less.

The issue with bathroom breaks is simple- it is an assembly line if you get up and leave you place the entire line will need to stop or those parts will not be installed.
11:58 April 18, 2012 by raandy
Aluk ya, but I don't do cockney.
13:57 April 18, 2012 by Al uk
@raandy me neither (cockney) i am a Northerner :-)
15:08 April 20, 2012 by Rittervon
Can you say "handschuhschneeballwerfer"? That was one of the words in the Local yesterday.

WOW tea? Tell them to drink some good coffee! I am a goverment worker, and we don't even get that. We are allowed a 15 min break every 4 hours and most of the time we work through it. No im not a desk worker. I'm one of the little people that others always call and say "we need more heat or cooling". I need this installed, that moved or this is broken.

Not a bad job but tea? I could see it if they wanted a longer break to have a krug of good German Bier!!
08:25 May 14, 2012 by bobat101
BMW are comming up against the UK Union attititude that drove car manufactirung out of the UK in the 70'[s, good luck to BMW and I really hope they win this one. The mindset on working needs to be reset in UK, I wouldn't set up a factory here.
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