Unite: We will strike over Bank of England’s snub to low-paid staff

Unite has today announced that staff working in The Bank of England have voted to go on strike. In the first industrial action in the bank in over 50 years, the staff at the Bank voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in a ballot, calling on their employer to give them a decent pay deal. In the industrial action ballot 95 per cent voted for strike action.

Unite has branded the bank “arrogant and out of touch” and called on Mark Carney to “get his own house in order” and personally intervene to settle this long-running dispute for the stake of the stability of the bank and the interests of its committed workforce.

Unite balloted its members working in the maintenance, parlours and security departments in the first part of the dispute. Our dispute with the iconic bank centres on the derisory pay settlement that the bank has imposed upon staff – without the agreement of the recognised union Unite. Staff are angry that they have been given a below inflation pay offer for the second year running. The result of this pay award is that up to one third of the staff will get no pay rise in 2017 whatsoever. This strike is merely the first stage of the action which involves staff working in the maintenance, parlours and security departments. Staff in these departments can earn as little as £20,000 per year and the imposition of a one per cent pay award leaves them and their families facing financial hardship.

The bank’s disgraceful snub of low paid staff stinks of arrogance and represents an organisation thoroughly out of touch with the reality of the pressure staff face meeting their costs of living. It is a source of shame that an iconic symbol of financial services in Britain is choosing to ride roughshod over the concerns of its dedicated and hardworking staff and impose this derisory pay deal. The Bank of England should be setting the highest standards within the financial services industry, not treating its workforce with contempt and forcing them to take a real terms pay cut.

The bank’s annual report shows that Mark Carney earns £480,000 a year, with his total remuneration package amounting to nearly £900,000. It is therefore appalling that the bank is refusing to negotiate a fair pay deal for its workforce. The message coming from staff at the bank is that an imposed pay offer of one per cent simply fails to realise the reality of the pressure staff face meeting their costs of living. The refusal of the Bank of England to award its staff a pay deal in line with inflation is a shame on the reputation of the organisation and strike action will do nothing for the reputation of the prestigious bank.

Unite wants to see the bank urgently reconsider its damaging pay policy and reopen meaningful discussions with Unite on behalf of staff. The strike ballot result reflects the anger and concerns of the dedicated and hardworking staff of the bank.

We have informed the bank that unless they are willing to show their workforce the recognition they deserve then our members working in the maintenance, parlours and security departments will be taking four days of strike action on 31 July, 1, 2 and 3 August 2017. If the bank fails to resolve the pay dispute the union will be consulting its members across other departments of the bank as part of the escalation plan. Unite represents members across all functions of the bank, ranging from security, maintenance, analysts and administrative staff; those working in the legal, HR and IT departments; and managers.

It is now time for the bank to hear the concerns of its workforce and sit down with Unite in order to recognise that fair pay doesn’t mean a pay cut.

Mercedes Sanchez is a regional officer for Unite

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