Bank of England staff have voted to hold their first strike in more than 50 years in a push for higher pay, a union said on Monday, adding to pressure for an end to tight controls on public sector wages in Britain.
Unite, Britain's biggest union, said maintenance and security staff at the 323-year-old institution would strike for four days from July 31 after they were awarded a 1 percent pay rise: “Unite has informed the Bank of England that its members working in the maintenance, parlours and security departments will be taking four days of strike action on July 31, August 1, 2 and 3 2017,” it said in a statement. That period coincides with the bank's next monetary policy meeting.
According to the union, about 95% of the workers in the Bank of England's voted for the strike. The central bank has responded by saying the striking workers represent only 2% of its overall staff and that the BOE has contingency plans in place to operate in the event of a strike.
The bank has proposed a 1% raise in staff compensation, which is short of the 2.8% rise in consumer prices that it forecast this year.
“The governor can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening on his own patch,” said Mercedes Sanchez, a Unite regional officer. “The result of the bank’s unwillingness to negotiate fair pay will be that the bank’s sites, including the iconic Threadneedle Street in the City of London, will effectively be inoperable.”
The union called on governor Mark Carney to personally intervene to "settle this long-running dispute for the stake of the stability of the bank and the interests of its committed workforce".
"Staff are angry that they have been given a below inflation pay offer for the second year running," the Unite statement added. "The result of this pay award is that up to one third of the staff will get no pay rise in 2017 whatsoever."
But a spokesperson for the BoE rubbished claims it would be harmed by industrial action.
“Should the strike go ahead, the Bank has plans in place so that all sites can continue to operate effectively. We will continue to have discussions with Unite and hope that there will be a positive outcome," they said.
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