Staff at the Financial Conduct Authority have voted in favour of industrial action – a first for the financial services regulator.
According to the union Unite, a ballot of its members at the FCA voted 75% in favour of action against changes made to their pay and conditions. Almost nine in 10 voted in favour of “industrial action short of strike action”. The FCA has responded that this is only an estimated 8% of the total workforce, however.
In March, the FCA offered staff a 12% average increase to base pay over the next two years, but the union described this as a “grave error”. Unite had previously argued that a number of staff would have their pay dramatically reduced in proposed changes to terms and conditions.
The FCA has responded to Unite’s claims by confirming that around 800 staff below manager level will see their base pay rise by more than £4,000 a year.
The consultation on the final package ran from September to December 2021 and received 4,500 responses through the organisation’s feedback tool, 2,200 emails to the team, 700 comments raised in meetings and over 580 questions answered on the FCA’s intranet site, Pulse.
FCA industrial action
The FCA’s Executive Committee held 77 sessions virtually and, where possible, in person in London and Edinburgh. The consultation concluded at the end of February and the proposals were agreed, it said.
However, Unite believes the proposed changes are still unacceptable. General secretary Sharon Graham said:
“They have made it very clear that the proposed changes to staff pay and conditions are completely unacceptable. The FCA management must now address the serious concerns of their employees.”
Unite said it has contacted Acas in an attempt to set up a negotiation between the union and FCA representatives.
Alan Scott, Unite officer said: “FCA staff have not taken the decision to vote for industrial action lightly. Unite has made it clear that the pay cuts and unfair appraisals are extremely detrimental to thousands of staff and it is time for the FCA to rethink these plans. The continued refusal to recognise an independent trade union further damages the standing of the organisation.
“The management could still avoid the reputational and business damage caused by strike action by meeting with Unite to resolve the dispute.”
An FCA spokesperson said: “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. 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. While we acknowledge the recent vote, we respect colleagues’ decision and understand the strength of feeling about some of the changes we have made.”
As part of the new employment package, around 800 of the FCA’s lowest paid colleagues will receive average salary increases of £4,310 to the minimum of a new pay benchmark, with other salary increases and performance related pay, taking overall increases for them to an average of around £5,500, the regulator added.