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Union ratchets up threat of industrial action at UK financial watchdog FCA

© Reuters.

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) -British labour union Unite said on Tuesday that 87% of its members at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have voted in a non-binding ballot in favour of industrial action against proposed changes to pay packages.

The labour dispute comes at a time of big internal change at the watchdog while it also faces pressure from lawmakers to crack down on a surge in online financial scams.

“Unless a negotiated settlement is reached Unite can now proceed to a full industrial action ballot,” Unite said in a statement.

The FCA, which employs around 4,000, said it has consulted with staff on proposals which would ensure the watchdog continues to provide “one of the best, if not the best” employment packages of any regulator or enforcement agency in Britain.

Most staff would receive base salary rises of at least 5% this year and 4% in 2023, and around 800 of the lowest paid staff would receive an average pay rise of 3,800 pounds ($5,128.48) this year, the FCA said in a statement.

The outcome of the FCA’s consultation is due by March.

Sharon Graham, Unite General Secretary, said FCA employees were telling the watchdog that the proposed changes were damaging and destroying any remaining goodwill the staff had.

The regulator is stopping discretionary bonuses for underperforming staff as it seeks to change internal culture, and FCA CEO Nikhil Rathi told parliament in December that some employees will end up being paid less this year.

Unite said the loss of such “routine payments misleadingly labelled bonuses” would cut overall pay by 10% to 12%.

The union said it would negotiate with the regulator through the ACAS voluntary arbitration scheme as soon as the watchdog agreed to this, otherwise a formal ballot for industrial action would be held.

It also said it could not disclose membership numbers among FCA staff while it was also in the process of a ballot on official recognition of the union at the authority.

Sky News reported on Monday that the FCA would name Richard Lloyd, who led British consumer group Which? for five years, as interim chairman. Lloyd will replace Charles Randell, who announced he would be stepping down a year early.

Rathi has revamped his executive team after an independent review said the watchdog botched the supervision of now collapsed investment company London Capital & Finance.

($1 = 0.7410 pounds)

Union ratchets up threat of industrial action at UK financial watchdog FCA

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