BMW staff in limbo over unconfirmed coronavirus shutdown pay

THE rates of pay being offered to BMW workers during the Cowley plant’s four -week shutdown will depend on employees’ length of service and job grade.

Staff at the plant have been left fearing they might not be able to make ends meet during the closure and criticised the company’s abrupt announcement.

Managers at the car factory gathered the thousands of employees and agency staff on Wednesday to reveal plans to cease production due to the worsening Covid-19 pandemic.

It will remain closed until April 19.

While the company remained positive that the ‘vast majority’ of employees will be paid in full during the shutdown, production workers pointed out that the current scheme means they will have to work the hours back once the plant reopens.

Unite spokesman Barckley Sumner confirmed their fears.

He said: “During the shutdown period, Unite is ensuring that everyone will continue to be fully paid.

“When the plant reopens workers will be expected to work back the pay they already received but no one will lose it under these arrangements.”

BMW spokesman Steve Wrelton explained the scheme and insisted that the arrangements are in line with agreements with the union.

He said: “The exact amount people will be paid during this time will depend on their WTA account balance, which itself relates to the length of service that someone has put in and, of course, their job grade.

“There is not a set figure because everyone will be different.”

Following negotiations with union representatives, the company caved to pressure to extend the WTA corridors for both BMW and agency employees by minus 75 hours.

They were not able to confirm if this, however, is the final decision on pay.

The spokesperson said: “This is a fast moving situation and we are monitoring everything very closely.

“We will continue to have dialogue with everyone who has an interest in what is happening in the weeks ahead, including representatives from the Unite union.”

However, many employees were also concerned about their sick pay during the coronavirus outbreak.

The company confirmed that people ill during the four-week closure, who can provide a sick note from a doctor and who have also informed their line managers, will receive statutory sick pay as usual.

Those in self-isolation will be using up ‘banked’ hours.

One production line worker, who asked not to be named, said he was directed to BMW’s HR department when he phoned his manager yesterday to say he is ill.

The car industry is facing its worst disruption in years, as manufacturers close dozens of plants across Europe as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

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