Challenge to BMW wilts as Alchemy withdraws

Unions representing staff at Rover’s troubled Longbridge plant say it is
unclear if they will push ahead with a legal challenge to BMW over lack of
consultation following the failure of the Alchemy bid.

As Personnel Today went to press, unions said they were assessing the
implications of Alchemy’s eleventh-hour decision not to buy Rover.

There was also speculation the Alchemy deal could have foundered on a
disagreement over who should foot the bill for redundancies.

In a statement, BMW said it would pursue alternatives to the Alchemy deal
including sale or complete closure.

All four unions with members at Longbridge – T&G, MSF, GMB and AEEU –
said the company had acknowledged there would be redundancies and as a result
had a duty to consult.

Its failure to do so, they claim, is a breach of section 10 of the Tupe
regulations which cover staff transfers.

The claim comes against a background of uncertainty as to who is responsible
for consultation and redundancy payments – BMW or its new owner.

In March, BMW announced it was selling parts of the Rover Group to Alchemy
and Ford. Alchemy’s withdrawal could open the way for a rival bid from a
consortium led by former Rover chief executive John Towers.

A T&G spokesman said, "BMW is refusing to negotiate with us over
the thousands of redundancies they will cause when they break up the Rover
Group.

"From public announcements of what BMW has said BMW will fund any
redundancies. But as we develop that we find that BMW is saying ‘yes, we will
fund redundancies, but that is included in the deal so go and speak to
Alchemy’."

He added, "We need to be clear in legal terms. Is BMW in effect
subcontracting redundancies and is that legal?"

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