LONDON.- The guardians of some of the world's most treasured artefacts walked out on strike Friday 4 July after being denied a pay rise that keeps up with inflation.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) will be joined by their colleagues from Prospect union in a half-day strike in the afternoon, followed by an indefinite work to rule starting on Monday 7 July.
Museum staff, including warders, security guards and those who provide help and advice to visitors, are frustrated at management’s delays over their pay for 2007.
After more than 12 months, during which the museum management has shown little or no willingness to negotiate, staff have been offered a below inflation rise of 1.6 per cent, plus a one-off bonus of just £100 for their hard work on the widely acclaimed First Emperor exhibition. The unions now have serious concerns that the 2008 pay negotiations will suffer a similar fate.
The action on Friday follows industrial action by members in the Museum of London, the Museum in Docklands, the Science Museum, the National Railway Museum and the Media Museum as resentment grows across the culture sector.
PCS negotiations officer Catherine Craig said: “Our members at the British Museum don’t take industrial action lightly. They rightly take great pride in the work they do and want visitors to be able to enjoy what is one of the country’s premier attractions. But they are understandably angry at this derisory offer which has taken so long to materialise.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This action is a direct result of the government’s shameful policy of attacking the living standards of public sector workers by capping pay rises to two per cent. Our members have shown their determination to fight this policy, which causes real hardship and has been widely discredited.”