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BOE faces first industrial action since 1960s with staff walkout

Employees at the Bank of England have gone on strike for the first time in more than 50 years over a pay dispute.

Some members of the bank, including staff from security and maintenance departments, staged a picket outside the Bank of England’s central London headquarters on Tuesday. A few of them were wearing masks of Governor Mark Carney.

The three-day strike will overlap with an interest rate decision on Thursday and involves maintenance and security staff at the 323-year-old bank.

Protesters hold up Bank of England Governor Mark Carney masks outside the bank as it staff begin a three day strike over pay, in the City of London, Britain, August 1, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

About 150 people work in the departments are affected by the stoppage.

Strikers carried signs reading “Bank of England staff want fair pay” decrying their pay rise, mocking it as “derisory.”

John McDonnell, the main opposition Labour Party’s top economic official, attended the protest and called for the bank to set an example to employers by raising their wages.

Britain’s opposition Labour Party’s shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, is shown outside the Bank of England as its staff begins a three day strike over pay, London, August 1, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

An official with the Unite trade union, Peter Kavanagh, said the workers had “been left with no choice but to take industrial action because they are facing another year of having to endure a pay cut imposed upon them.”

The dispute arose over a 1 percent increase in pay offer from the central bank in March. The rate of consumer price inflation in England stands at 2.6 percent, meaning that workers will be facing a real terms pay cut. The Bank of England has a total workforce of around 4,000.

The central bank noted that the number of strikers is small and says it 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,” a Bank spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday.

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