Bank of England Staff to Strike Over Pay

By Paul Hannon Features Dow Jones Newswires

The Bank of England faces strike action by some of its staff after a ballot of workers in the maintenance, parlors and security departments found 95% supported a series of walkouts.

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The Unite labor union Monday said that, as a result of the ballot, staff will strike on July 31, and August 1, 2 and 3 unless the BOE acts to resolve a dispute over pay.

The BOE said the three departments account for just 2% of its employees and it has plans in place to ensure it can "continue to operate effectively."

Staff have been given a 1% pay rise for the year commencing March 1, in line with a cap on public sector wages imposed as part of the government's efforts to cut borrowing, though the central bank isn't bound by that rule. In its most recent forecasts, the BOE predicted that consumer prices will rise by 2.8% this year and 2.4% in 2018, above its target of 2%.

Unite said workers in the departments being balloted can earn as little as GBP20,000 ($25,678) a year.

" Mark Carney needs to get his own house in order," said Mercedes Sanchez, a Unite official. "It is nothing short of shameful that the iconic symbol of financial services in the U.K. is choosing to ride roughshod over the concerns of its dedicated and hardworking staff and impose this derisory pay deal. The governor can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening on his own patch."

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The dispute comes as a pickup in inflation, driven in part by the pound's depreciation in the wake of a June 2016 vote to leave the European Union, has squeezed Britons' spending power.

Figures released Friday showed British households suffered the longest sustained decline in disposable income in over four decades in the nine months through March.

"We will continue to have discussions with Unite and hope that there will be a positive outcome," a BOE spokesperson said.

BOE Gov. Mark Carney is paid GBP480,000 a year, with additional contributions to his pension, but hasn't taken a pay rise since joining in 2013. His deputies received a 1% pay rise in March.

If BOE staff do take action, they won't be the first in Europe to do so. Employees of the European Central Bank took similar action in 2009 in a dispute over pensions and pay. But work stoppages at major central banks are rare events.

Write to Paul Hannon at paul.hannon@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 03, 2017 07:40 ET (11:40 GMT)