(Removes ‘to’ from headline)
By Huw Jones
LONDON -Staff at Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) went on strike for the first time on Wednesday as a protracted dispute over pay and union recognition remained unresolved.
The regulator is being revamped to become what Chief Executive Nikhil Rathi has said will be a more aggressive watchdog to tackle scams and misconduct.
The Unite union said the strike follows months of refusals by the FCA to listen to its workforce.
“The action will start with 48 hours of continuous strike action by workers across the financial regulator in London and Edinburgh,” a Unite statement said.
“This will be 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.”
Strikes are also planned in June and July.
The FCA employs about 4,000 staff, but a person familiar with the watchdog said that 294 Unite members – accounting for less than 8% of the payroll – have said they are prepared to strike and no significant disruption to operations is expected.
The watchdog has replaced what it considered to be bonuses that had no real link to performance, implementing what is says is a “highly competitive” pay package based on extensive consultation with staff.
“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,” the FCA said.
The FCA said the vast majority of colleagues have decided not to strike and the watchdog was 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,” the FCA said.
Official union recognition would allow Unite to represent staff in pay negotiations.
The Central Arbitration Committee, an independent workplace disputes body, is considering whether to accept an application from Unite for labour union recognition at the FCA.
(Reporting by Huw JonesEditing by David Goodman and Elaine Hardcastle)