Bank of England to be picketed in union protest over sacked staff

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Bank of England is to be picketed today by trade unionists protesting about its decision to sack five workers who refused to accept cuts in their mortgage and holiday benefits.

The Bank of England is to be picketed today by trade unionists protesting about its decision to sack five workers who refused to accept cuts in their mortgage and holiday benefits.

Members of the finance union Unifi, including several of those given notice, will issue leaflets outside the Bank's headquarters in Threadneedle Street, City of London, demanding that it reinstates the five staff or offers them fullcompensation.

The dispute also involves a sixth employee, who was on maternity leave when she was told, in a letter delivered by courier on the day she gave birth, that her contract would be renegotiated when she returned to work.

Three of the other five staff, four women and one man, were on holiday when the Bank's letter informing them of their redundancy arrived. Their complaints of unfair dismissal are being taken to an employment tribunal.

Union leaders said the six staff refused to accept a new package of benefits, which removed their entitlement to cut-price mortgages, with interest rates as low as 2 per cent, and reduced their holiday entitlement by up to eight days.

Their benefits were linked to length of service, and the six staff involved have more than 100 years' service between them, said John Brawley, Unifi's national secretary for the Bank of England.

The new package gives staff a "menu" of flexible benefits they can select from, based on the points they earn from their length of service or positions. So far, 1,800 staff have accepted the new contracts, with only the six people involved in the dispute rejecting them.

Mr Brawley said the staff concerned had accrued extra days of holiday in lieu of wage rises when salaries at the Bank were frozen, giving them better-than-average entitlements. The loss of discounted mortgages was equivalent to £250 a month.

"What they've done is taken the holidays from these people and under the new flexible package offered to sell them back to them," said Mr Brawley. "The Bank has experienced a little bit of sales resistance on that one.

"Everyone believed that a contract couldn't be changed unless both sides agreed to it. The concerns of people here are that if they agree with changing the contracts this time, what happens if the Bank wants to go back and rip it all up again?"

A spokeswoman for the Bank of England rejected his claims, and insisted all staff were financially better off under the new scheme, which involved those entitled to discounted mortgages being given compensation of up to £15,000.

She said staff could now use their points to "buy" up to 35 days' holiday a year - five days longer than under the previous limit - although they would often cut their rights to other benefits. "They would have to choose which benefits they value most," she said.

"We've introduced a new and fair benefits package, as a result of which staff have a choice of benefits. We're confident that no one is worse off."

Comments