Barclays Bank may face strike action

After members voted in a ballot to turn down a new pay scheme at Barclays Bank, trade unions balloted members in July 1997 on whether to take industrial action.

Members of the finance trade unions BIFU and UNiFI who work at Barclays Bank were balloted in July 1997 over whether to take industrial action. The ballot took place after a consultative ballot concerning the bank's new pay proposals showed overwhelming rejection by staff. Jim Lowe, the BIFU general secretary, said that: "Staff are very angry ... If these proposals go through as they stand, potentially over 25,000 staff face a wage freeze as well as leaving pensions expectations in ruins. We believe this is totally immoral."

The unions are protesting against a new performance-related pay (PRP) scheme which will mean the end of traditional across-the-board wage increases. The PRP scheme would mean that only those employees performing extremely well would receive salary increases beyond a fixed pay limit. One-off bonuses would be available to others, but staff not performing well under the new scheme would receive nothing at all. This means that pay increases for many would not necessarily be consolidated into basic salary, which in turn would lower pension entitlements.

The ballot began on 7 July and the result was due to be announced on 25 July. In the ballot, the unions are seeking backing for sustained action in the form of two- or three-day strikes, overtime bans and a work to rule. On 11 July, unions held a "wear a badge" day to encourage staff to vote in favour of strike action, which the unions claimed was supported by tens of thousands of staff. The unions also held a "take your full lunch-break day" on 18 July, saying that: "Barclays relies heavily on the goodwill of staff to clear mounting workloads - most staff do this by cutting short their lunch-break ... Barclays can't expect to rely on the goodwill of staff when they are attacking pay and pensions"

Barclays says that the PRP scheme was designed to reward high-performing staff, rather than the present system which is based on length of service. According to a report in the Financial Times, the company had agreed to extend the transitional phase of the scheme and hoped employees would vote against the strike action.

Newspaper reports have stated that although Barclays staff reacted furiously over the pay proposals, it is not sure how many will be willing to vote for sustained industrial action. However, the unions say that staff are encouraged by the strike action at British Airways (UK9706137N), which is over a similar issue.

Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Eurofound welcomes feedback and updates on this regulation

Add new comment