Staff at the Financial Conduct Authority in Edinburgh are striking for the first time in a dispute over pay and conditions.
Around 120 workers from the regulator in the capital will take to the picket line on Wednesday and Thursday, union Unite said, the first time staff have taken industrial action in its nine-year history.
Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, said that “the imposition of changes to pay, terms and conditions at the FCA has left thousands of staff worse off”.
Staff are striking as they battle with the regulator for better pay, terms and conditions, and for trade union recognition.
And Lyn Turner, Unite industrial officer, said that “the situation for the Edinburgh-based workers is even worse than their London-based colleagues”.
“The FCA staff in Edinburgh will be around 10% worse off for doing the exact same work and until now they have been on the same pay scales for that work,” she said.
“So much for the UK Government’s levelling up agenda.”
There is set to be further action on June 9 and 10, and then July 5 and 6, the union said, and members would be working to rule on non-strike days from Friday as part of the dispute.
In April the union said more than three quarters of its members at the regulator voted in favour of industrial action, and a further 89.8% voted to support action short of strike.
Ms Graham said members “must be congratulated for taking a stand against the disgraceful actions of the management under the leadership of the CEO, Nikhil Rathi”, and added that “nobody takes industrial action lightly”.
“Management’s ludicrous claims that the changes will boost worker productivity has only added insult to injury,” she said.
“And then by refusing to recognise the right to an independent trade union, they have really shown the depths to which they are prepared to sink.
“It is frankly disgusting that a public sector employer like the FCA thinks it can behave with such contempt towards its workers.”
Across the UK it is thought around 294 of the regulator’s 4,000 staff have said they would be prepared to take strike action.
A spokesman for the FCA said the “new employment package is highly competitive, providing fair, competitive pay at all levels and rewards strong, consistent performance”.
“Most colleagues are receiving an average 7% increase in base pay this year and over 12% over the next two years, with an additional one-off cash payment of 4% in May,” the spokesman said.
“Our lowest paid and strongest performers will receive more. The changes we have made ensure the FCA’s pay and benefits package remains one of the best, if not the best, of any regulatory or enforcement agency in the UK.
“We acknowledge the decision by Unite members, however, and respect the strength of feeling of some colleagues about changes we have made.”