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Staff at the Financial Conduct Authority who are members of union Unite are on strike over pay and bonuses on Wednesday, the first time this has happened in the regulator’s existence. The FCA expects to be operating as normal.
Unite said there will be 48 hours of continuous strike action by workers across the financial regulator in London and Edinburgh, followed by a continuous ‘work to rule’ by the workforce who will withdraw the regular overtime and additional work they currently do outside of their contractual duties.
Unite said both the strike and the work to rule action “will have a significant impact on the ability of the FCA to conduct its regulatory responsibilities and damage the standing of the organisation”.
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said the imposition of changes to pay, terms and conditions at the FCA had left thousands of staff worse off.
“Management’s ludicrous claims that the changes will boost worker productivity has only added insult to injury. And then by refusing to recognise the right to an independent trade union, they have really shown the depths to which they are prepared to sink. It is frankly disgusting that a public sector employer like the FCA thinks it can behave with such contempt towards its workers,” said Graham.
She said strike action was not taken lightly, but that “the FCA must learn to respect its workers and table a serious offer”.
Unite said it has approached the FCA several times over the past six months and offered to meet at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, but that attempts to reach a settlement “have been rejected by the FCA”.
FCA: We’ll be operating as normal
The FCA had consulted on a new pay package last year and decided to scrap bonuses from April this year, though it agreed to make a one-off payment following feedback from staff.
In its consultation, the FCA argued that the payment of significant cash bonuses risks undermining confidence in it and does not include elements it asks regulated firms to have in their reward structures, such as clawback or deferred payment mechanisms for senior staff.
“What's more, it has become increasingly difficult to justify these one-off payments following the publication of two independent reviews, which found that we acted too slowly and with insufficient creativity and assertiveness to prevent harm to consumers,” the consultation reads.
The FCA expects just 8% of its workers to be on strike, saying it will be operating as normal, and believes the new employment offer has been received well.
“Our new employment package is highly competitive, providing fair, competitive pay at all levels and rewards strong, consistent performance. Most colleagues are receiving an average 7% increase in base pay this year and over 12% over the next two years, with an additional one-off cash payment of 4% in May,” said a spokesperson.
The lowest paid and strongest performers will receive more, the spokesperson said, adding that the FCA’s pay and benefits package “remains one of the best, if not the best, of any regulatory or enforcement agency in the UK”.
The spokesperson added: “The vast majority of colleagues have however decided not to strike and we are operating as normal. We acknowledge the decision by Unite members, however, and respect the strength of feeling of some colleagues about changes we have made.”
Should staff at enforcement agencies be allowed to go on strike?