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Mercedes-Benz Retail Group denies handing technicians 13% pay rise to avoid strike

CGI image: Mercedes-Benz Retail Group's redeveloped West London showroom

Mercedes-Benz Retail Group (MBRG) has denied issuing its technicians a 13% pay rise to avoid two days of strike action affecting workshops at nine of its dealerships.

Unite the Union, which had been negotiating with the manufacturer-owned AM100 car retail group over a wage rise for 185 of its members after what it claimed was a “two-year pay freeze”, said that technicians would receive a 13% pay hike and £500 lump sum as a result of the settlement.

But a spokesperson for MBRG denied the scale of the offer agreed just days before the planned strikes at dealership in Brentford, Brooklands, Colindale, Croydon, Heathrow, Loughton, Temple Fortune, Stratford and Watford between January 25 and 28.

“Interpretations may differ, but the inflationary increase agreed is 3% not 13% and there has been a shift in focus from bonus to base salary to retain our industry leading position,” the spokesperson said.

AM reported last month on MBRG technicians' refusal of a 1.5% pay rise before Christmas.

Unite later accused bosses of adopting “divide and rule” tactics by subsequently offering a pay rise to non-Unite employees.

In a statement issued about the dispute’s eventual resolution, Unite said that the agreement settlement package covered the vast majority of the bargaining units, resulting in a £500 lump sum (equivalent of 1.5% of pay) for 2021.

It added: “For this year, a pay restructuring sees 10% moved from the bonus scheme into contractual basic pay, consolidated for future years – with also a 3% increase for 2022 on top of the new basic pay rates.”

Commenting on the outcoming of the union action, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This 13 per cent pay increase for 2022 is a significant victory in Unite’s continuing campaign to ensure that our members across the UK don’t fall behind in the cost of living crisis.

“It shows that MBRG, owned by the highly profitable Daimler AG, was well able to dip into its deep corporate pockets, after two years of pay freezes, to fund this package for our members.”

Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said: “I would like to thank our members for the solidarity they have shown which greatly contributed to the acceleration from a zero pay offer to one that recognises their dedication and hard work during the two years of the pandemic.

“Unite looks forward to a constructive and positive dialogue with management as we move forward.”

Last May Mercedes-Benz revealed that it was considering the sale of its London-centric, nine-dealership Mercedes-Benz Retail Group.

The announcement came 11 months after a spokesperson insisted that it had no plans to divest of its dealerships in an interview with AM, following the closure of dealerships in Bromley, Caterham and Chelsea.

In July L&L Automotive acquired Mercedes-Benz Retail Group’s Hemel Hempstead dealership.

Back in November MBRG sold its Epsom dealership to Sandown Motors.

The group is proceeding with the development of its new flagship West London dealership, however.

The German OEM’s shift away from physical retail in the UK comes after franchisees told AM that the brand had begun consultation on a shift to agency model retail agreements, a move dismissed by a spokesperson as “speculation”.

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