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UK financial watchdog draws union ire with revamped pay structure

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Skyscrapers in The City of London financial district are seen in London, Britain, September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s financial watchdog set out a new pay structure and one-off ‘cost of living’ bonus for staff on Tuesday in an effort to quell unease among employees with a move labour union Unite described as “significantly harmful”.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Chief Executive Nikhil Rathi wants to improve culture among the watchdog’s 4,000 staff to create a sharper, more assertive regulator after critical reports on how it has operated.

The FCA needs to fill hundreds of empty posts to complete and internal transformation but faces potential industrial action at a time of major demands on its resources from COVID-19 and Brexit.

The FCA said its new pay structure follows an extensive and comprehensive consultation with staff to “provide one of the best reward packages” of any regulator in Britain.

It will bump up pay for its 800 lowest-paid staff, with 85% of employees receiving increases of at least 5% this year and 4% in 2023 if they meet performance targets.

Staff will receive a one-off cash payment worth 4% of their salary next month in recognition of the “changed economic enviroment”, a nod to surging living costs in Britain as energy prices rocket.

But discretionary cash bonuses will be removed for all staff from next year, with the final bonuses paid to the highest-performing employees in April 2022, the FCA said.

“I’m hugely grateful for the time colleagues have spent contributing to the consultation and I understand the strength of feeling about some of the changes we are making,” Rathi said in a statement.

Unite national officer Dominic Hook said the FCA pay proposals were a grave error and will be significantly harmful for a large number of loyal, experienced and long-serving staff.

Unite is seeking recognition from the FCA to collectively represent members at the watchdog, and Hook said that the regulator should sit at the negotiating table to avoid doing irreparable damage to itself.

UK financial watchdog draws union ire with revamped pay structure

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