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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 November 2009

Working life in a car factory

Steve Bell of Aylesbury Socialist Party recently interviewed a car worker at the BMW plant in Oxford.
What is your working life like at the moment?

Life at the Mini plant at Cowley is one of constant change. Management are always looking for ways of improving quality and driving down costs.

The plant is running seven days a week with three shifts running at full capacity, producing 54 cars an hour. BMW has even brought extra agency labour to cope with some of the work.

What sort of problems are the workers facing?

Those who have been on long-term sick have been asked to come back on the threat of having their pay stopped, even when they have a doctor's certificate.

BMW has a good sick package but some in the HR department, with no medical knowledge, have ridden roughshod over people's health and well-being. Some very sick people have been called back to work before being fully fit.

What do the workers feel about the future?

The atmosphere at the plant is quite optimistic, with two new models coming on board. The rumours are that the shifts are set for at least the next nine months but that there could be a pay freeze.

But we hear nothing from the trade unions about anything. No union bulletins have been sent out about pay or the shift changes. The workforce is angry with Unite as rules and conditions are eroded away without a fight and with no consultation with the workers.

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In The Socialist 18 November 2009:

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