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.