Workers At Welsh Museums Strike Over Pay

A number of national museums in Wales have said they will close or partially close due to industrial action over weekend working allowances disputes, with Big Pit National Coal Museum being the first one to do so Friday afternoon.

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Members of the trade union Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) at National Museum Wales said they lost confidence in the museums management, and the union would take industrial action during the Easter weekend.

Welsh Museums
Welsh Museums

PCS said its members voted overwhelmingly to express their dissatisfaction with the senior management team, which refused to restart negotiations to settle the long-running dispute.

It said the members oppose plans to scrap premium payments for weekend working, which make up as much as 15 percent of the take-home pay of front-of-house staff.

“This dispute has now dragged on for two years and morale is at rock bottom. We understand that the Museum’s budget has been cut but don’t accept that it should be the ‘front-of-house’ staff — the poorest-paid in the organisation — who should make the greatest sacrifice, by giving up their weekend pay,” said Shavanah Taj, PCS Wales secretary.

Taj urged the museum management to talk and resolve the problem.

Affected museums include Big Pit National Coal Museum, which opened at 1 p.m. on Friday but with no underground tours. National Wool Museum and National Waterfront Museum’s galleries will close on Saturday, while some historic buildings at St Fagans National History Museum will be shut and National Slate Museum will close on Sunday.

“Facing a 4.7 percent cut in its Grant in Aid from the Welsh Government on top of a 25 percent reduction in real terms over the last five years, National Museum Wales cannot continue to pay Premium Payments in their current form, which now cost the Museum around 750,000 pounds a year,” said National Museum Wales.

The National Museum Wales announced last week it would start consulting with those affected by planned changes to weekend working allowances, or Premium Payments, on an individual basis. The process is due to start on April 4, unless an agreement can be reached before then, it explained. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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