Faced with an attack on their terms and conditions, staff at the Central Bank and the Financial Services Authority have joined the growing list of workers forced to take industrial action to defend their working conditions.
A one-day strike on November 26th by Unite members put pickets on the Central Bank’s head office on Dame St, the Currency Centre in Sandyford as well as the Financial Regulator’s office on Dame St.
While the Central Bank and the Regulator stood idly by, allowing the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick and the other bank Directors to commit wholesale fraud and to run the economy into the ground, management have been far less negligent when it comes to attacking workers’ rights.
After withdrawing from negotiations in the Labour Relations Commission, they’ve attempted to unilaterally force through changes in existing agreements for staff, including lengthening the working week as well as making changes to flexibility. On top of this, workers have also been forced to take a hit to their wages through the imposition of the pension levy. This is despite the fact that the Central Bank is legally independent of the state.
As a result of the inadequate regulation given to the financial sector, ordinary workers have been forced to bear the brunt of trying to reverse the previous attitudes of the Central Bank and the Regulator, were they turned a blind eye to the “wild west style” practices of the banks. And while workers are expected to pay for this crisis and for the lackadaisical regulation by management, the new Financial Regulator is going to be rewarded with a €150,000 pay increase, taking home €400,000 a year!
In an important show of solidarity, other trade union members refused to cross the picket and the offices were forced to close for the day. Friday’s strike was an important first step but the workers must keep up the action to defeat any changes to their working conditions.