Workers at the Bank of England (BOE) walked out on strike on Tuesday for the first time in five decades, over a pay dispute.
Employees working in the central bank’s maintenance and security departments, will continue the industrial action over the next three days.
Staff employed in the bank’s “parlors” – ground floor offices where BOE Governor Mark Carney and his senior colleagues work – are also involved in the strike.
A last-minute attempt to halt the action at the government’s conciliation service Acas yesterday failed to break through. The U.K.’s Unite union has been in dispute with the BOE over a below-inflation 1 percent increase in pay for maintenance, parlors and security personnel.
“Mark Carney should come to the picket lines outside this iconic British bank today and explain why hardworking men and women deserve to face years of pay cuts,” Peter Kavanagh, a Unite official, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“They are struggling to pay their bills and feed their families because the bank has unjustly imposed a below inflation or zero pay rise.”
Staff wore Mark Carney masks outside the institution’s headquarters in Threadneedle Street, London.
The central bank maintained that operations at the bank would continue smoothly.
“The Bank (of England) has been informed of industrial action being called by Unite will commence at midnight tonight for three days. The Union balloted approximately 2 percent of the workforce,” a spokesperson for the Bank of England said in an official statement on Monday.
“The Bank has plans in place so that all essential business will continue to operate as normal during this period. The Bank has been in talks with Unite up to and including today and remains ready to continue those talks at any time.”
UK central bank staff not the first to take strike action
Employees at central banks in India and Ireland have also taken part in industrial strike action.
In 2015, a majority of the Reserve Bank of India’s 17,000 employees went on strike, which was described by the central bank as a “mass casual leave”.
Four unions had called for the strike in demand of better pension benefits and opposition to reforms that would reduce the Indian central bank’s regulatory powers.
A year later, mint workers at the Central Bank of Ireland – the people responsible for producing the country’s money – staged a one-day strike in a dispute over pay.