CHRISTMAS has come early for agency workers at the Cowley Mini plant.

Mini parent company BMW has revealed it is creating 1,000 permanent contract positions at its four UK plants, with the majority coming to Oxford.

And union leaders are claiming a major victory, with agency workers to be given priority for all the jobs.

UNITE national secretary Roger Maddison said: “The best Christmas present for working families is job security. We are delighted 1,000 BMW agency workers are to be made permanent with guaranteed job security beyond 2020.

“It is a prime example of unions and employers working together to make a lasting and positive impact in the workplace.

“The deal is also an indication of the strength of the car industry and the skills of the UK workforce.”

Bosses and union representatives have been thrashing out the deal for months with talks stepped up after the unveiling of the new third-generation car last month.

BMW spokesman Angela Stangroom said: “We are part way through the £760m investment in the Mini production network and the new model is creating this expansion.

“Priority will be given to eligible agency staff as long as they meet the selection criteria which is a robust process.”

The initial recruitment covers 700 jobs and will start in the New Year with the recruitment process for the remaining 300 contracts starting in 2016.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith welcomed the news.
He said: “This is an enormous achievement by Unite that I know has come about as a result of hard negotiation.

“It is a very good Christmas present for agency workers and as BMW continues to invest, there is the prospect of further jobs.

“It is great to see manufacturing playing its part in the recovery from recession.”

The plant employs 4,000 staff with new positions set to be filled by the pool of agency staff, some of whom have worked at the site for years.

New jobs will also be created at BMW’s Swindon pressings plant which makes the Mini bodyshells, engine plant Hams Hall, near Birmingham and the Rolls Royce factory in Goodwood, West Sussex.

The plant has a capacity of 260,000 cars a year and bosses have expanded production to Holland in time for 2014 which could boost production to 400,000 cars a year.