OXFORD’S Mini plant has told workers that it faces ‘uncertain times’ ahead.
Managers have also warned that ‘resourcing levels’ are closely linked to ‘volatile and unpredictable demand’ around the world which has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
BMW was responding to a rumour, reported to the Oxford Mail but denied by the company, that a large number of agency staff were set to have their contracts terminated.
An employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had heard that many agency contracts were to be cut before the summer shutdown on July 31.
He said the reason for the redundancies was that the plant would be changing its shift pattern from three-shift operation to two, because of the economic impact from the coronavirus.
The worker also stated that those agency workers were not set to receive any redundancy payment.
Plant spokesperson Steve Wrelton refuted the claims, saying ‘there is no truth to the statement’.
While the source of the rumour is unclear, an official statement from BMW said: “MINI Plant Oxford is back in production following a complex ramp-up and a period of gradual re-opening which took place in May.
“We are operating in challenging and uncertain times, but our teams are working hard to ensure the smooth running of our operations as far as possible.
“Clearly, our shift patterns and resourcing levels are closely linked to volatile and unpredictable customer demand, which has been impacted across the world in recent months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are running a three-shift operation at present and currently there are no plans to adjust our working pattern.
“We will of course keep the situation under constant review.”
Trade union Unite, of which some plant workers are members, also backed BMW’s statement.
Spokesman Barckley Sumner said his understanding was that the rumours were ‘completely untrue’.
It is not the first time during the pandemic and lockdown that plant workers have raised concerns about their workplace.
In June, two workers at the Mini plant were sent home over coronavirus fears – one tested positive for the virus and the other was asked to self-isolate after being in contact with them.
When contacting the Oxford Mail to raise concerns, one of them said they ‘felt unsafe at work’.
At the time the plant said the health and safety of its workforce was the company’s ‘number one priority’.
A spokesperson continued: “Before the re-start of production we implemented a wide range of practical steps, as well as enhanced personal hygiene and cleaning routines, which will remain in place.
“We are following all of the latest Government health and safety guidance and have issued clear instructions and given training about these measures, the required new behaviours and what to do if people are symptomatic.”