Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 17:09 UK

ECB workers in first-ever strike

ECB headquaters in Frankfurt
The strike will be the first in the ECB's history

Staff at the European Central Bank (ECB) have held their first-ever strike, in a protest over pensions and other benefits.

Workers gathered in front of the building in Frankfurt for a one and a half hour protest beside the site's giant euro sign.

It was the first industrial action at the ECB in its 10-year history.

The walk-out came a day before ECB policymakers are expected to keep eurozone interest rates on hold at 1%.

Docked pay

The union representing ECB staff, the International and European Public Services Organisation (IPSO), said staff could see their overall benefits reduced by 15%.

It said the proposed changes included employees having to make bigger pension contributions, and a reduction in the value of early retirement packages.

IPSO said workers were also angry at a lack of influence in pay and benefit discussions.

The ECB said that staff had been involved in meetings about the pension and benefit changes, but that European law made clear the bank's top management were the only ones who had any say over pay.

Staff have been informed in letter by ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet and the rest of the bank's board that they have decided to dock the pay of any staff that take part in the protest.

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