York museum staff to strike over ‘failure to pay the real living wage’

The National Railway Museum in York. Photograph: YorkMix
13 Aug 2019 @ 8.07 am
| News

Workers at the National Railway Museum are to go on strike in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Prospect union in the Science Museum Group (SMG) will stage a 24-hour walkout on August 30 and a work to rule from August 24-29.

The union said the SMG has failed to come up with an improved offer after imposing a below-inflation pay rise of 1.5% for most staff earlier this year.

Prospect said it was the latest in a series of below-inflation pay rises it maintained had left workers with a 13% real terms pay cut since 2010.

‘Visitors will be shocked’

Photograph: visityork.org
As well as the NRM, the group includes the Science Museum in London, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

Prospect negotiations officer Sharon Brown said:

  • Our members in SMG love their jobs but they cannot carry on with year after year of real terms pay cuts. The group has left us with no option but to strike.

    I’m sure that most of the million or so people visiting SMG museums this summer will be astounded at how poorly its staff are paid, especially when they see that the director’s pay has increased by a third in just four years.

    These are extremely high profile attractions and it is a travesty that they refuse to pay the living wage.

Prospect said the minimum hourly rate is significantly below the voluntary Real Living Wage of £9 an hour and £10.55 in London.

The union added it was not the intention of members to close the museums as a result of the action.

‘Reasonable offer’

Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
A Science Museum Group spokesman said:

  • We firmly expect all our museums to open on the day of the strike and during the work to rule period and our priority will be to ensure our visitors have an enjoyable day.

    The overall pay settlement represents a 2.7% increase in salary costs which we believe was a reasonable offer, given the challenging overall financial picture.

    All colleagues received an increase of at least 1.5%, and we offered up to 6.9% for those on the lowest salaries.

The group also sent a statement on minimum pay levels at its museums. It said:

“Following a 6.9% pay rise for our lowest paid colleagues, our internal minimum rates of hourly pay are £8.70 outside of London and £10.19 in London.

“The National Minimum Wage for those aged under 25 is a statutory minimum set by the Government and is currently £7.70 across the UK.

“The National Living Wage for those aged 25 and over is a statutory minimum set by the Government and it is currently £8.21 across the UK.

“As well as these legal minimums a group called the Living Wage Foundation leads a campaign to encourage employers to adopt higher minimum pay rates, known as the Real Living Wage. It is currently £9 across the UK and £10.55 in London (reflecting the higher cost of goods and services in the capital).