Trade union Unite has failed to secure the right to formally represent workers at the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority just days after calling the first strike to hit the UK financial regulator since its formation nine years ago.
On Tuesday the Central Arbitration Committee, the government body responsible for granting recognition to trade unions, said Unite had not proved that a “majority” of FCA staff wanted it to represent them.
The decision is a setback for Unite, which had to resort to the statutory route after the FCA’s management refused voluntary to recognise the union as part of a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions.
Last week, the union called two days of strike action at the regulator — the first in the FCA’s short history — after securing the backing of fewer than 300 of the 4,000 staff for industrial action in a ballot in April. Unite has a total of 600 members at the regulator, according to its CAC submission, equivalent to just over 15 per cent of the workforce.
A union must pass two tests to be granted formal recognition by CAC. Firstly, it must have at least 10 per cent of the workforce as members and then it must demonstrate that a majority of workers in the proposed bargaining unit are in favour of recognition. The CAC said in its ruling that 31.2 per cent of workers had signed a petition in favour of union recognition.
Unite has fought for recognition as part of its campaign against a restructuring plan unveiled by chief executive Nikhil Rathi last year. The union claims the changes, which started to take effect last month, amount to pay cuts for many employees.
Rathi’s restructuring will end the payment of discretionary performance-related bonuses for staff from 2023, and instead increase base pay if certain targets are met. Bonuses were previously awarded to between 70- 90 per cent of staff.
Unite said the CAC ruling would change “nothing” and added that its members planned to “continue their industrial action to make their employer listen to their concern and ensure the FCA is the best employer it can be”.
In a statement the FCA pledged to have “an open conversation” with all staff about how their views are represented. It added that the statutory process for recognition conducted through the CAC was the “best way of assessing the views of all colleagues on collective bargaining”.