Strike action begins at FCA

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is facing ongoing strike action from members of Unite Union, amid claims that the FCA management has refused to listen to workforce concerns.

Workers from across the financial regulator in London and Edinburgh began 48 hours 'strike action today (4 May), with further plans for continuous “work to rule” action, which will see staff withdraw regular overtime and any additional work outside their contractual duties.

The union suggested that both the industrial action and the work to rule will have a "significant impact" on the ability of the regulator to conduct its regulatory responsibilities, and potentially damage the reputation of the organisation.

It marks first time that the regulator has faced industrial action since its inception, with 75 per cent of Unite Union members previously voting to back the action earlier this year, whilst 89.8 per cent voted to back industrial action short of a strike.

Key issues around the dispute include changes to staff bonuses, appraisal concerns, and fears around further plans to cut staff pension rights in the pipeline, which the union stated FCA were "refusing to discuss the details" of with the workforce.

The union said that it made several approaches to the FCA to avoid strike action, also offering to meet through ACAS to resolve the issue, although it stated that these were rejected by the FCA.

Commenting on the 'historic' strike action, Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Unite members at the FCA must be congratulated for taking a stand against the disgraceful actions of the management under the leadership of the CEO, Nikhil Rathi.

“The imposition of changes to pay, terms and conditions at the FCA has 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.

“Nobody takes industrial action lightly and this is the first strike in the history of the FCA. Unite members at the FCA know that they are not alone.

"Unite will stand behind them every step of the way and I will ensure that they have all the support they need. So now the FCA must learn to respect its workers and table a serious offer.”

Commenting in response to the concerns, however, a FCA spokesperson stated that the FCA’s package remains one of the best of any regulatory agency in the UK, saying that the "vast majority" of staff are not striking, with operations to continue as normal.

They stated: “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 per cent increase in base pay this year and over 12 per cent over the next two years, with an additional one-off cash payment of 4 per cent in May.

“Our lowest paid and strongest performers will receive more. The changes we have made ensure 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 vast majority of colleagues have 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.”

The FCA previously ran a consultation on the final package in Q4 2021, receiving 4,500 responses through its feedback tool, whilst 2,200 emails were sent to the team and 700 comments were captured from the 77 meetings hosted by executive directors, with this information then reviewed by the executive committee.

Announcing the new employment offer in March, the FCA also estimated that around 800 of its lowest paid staff would receive increases, on average, of around £4,310 as they are brought up to the new minimum of the new pay ranges.

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