FOR every one of the 850 agency workers given the boot by BMW yesterday, another five will be affected.

Men and women, some of whom have given as much as seven years service to the Cowley car plant, have partners, husbands and wives, sons and daughters – all of whom will now feel the pinch.

BMW, the German company running the plant, has every right to make its staff redundant in the eye of a savage recession, but the autocratic and secretive way it has handled this episode is shoddy and shambolic.

It knew many weeks ago that hundreds of workers would be made redundant, but reportedly threatened those who dared to talk to the media with the sack.

For an organisation that likes to think of itself as the heart of the community, that is a laughable and insulting approach.

And it will never be forgotten.

Worried workers have been pleading for information for weeks.

As late as Sunday night, BMW was trotting out the same, tired line that it was continuing to talk to the union about changes in shifts.

No comment would be made until workers had been told, it said.

In fact, the company knew very well what it had plotted, and took a cowardly approach to informing affected workers.

It told staff they were being let go an hour before their shift finished yesterday morning.

As soon as that fact was reported, BMW was straight on the phone whining about inaccuracy.

It said its workers hadn’t been given an hour’s notice, they had been given a week’s notice as they would be paid up to and including next weekend. Nice try.

We have always encouraged people to buy a Mini – after all, they are made in our great city by skilled workers.

We will continue to do so. But let us always remember the despicable way this company has treated hundreds in our community and the fact that they would not be allowed to get away with it in their German factories.