Socialist Worker

Display of anger from museum staff in Wales

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2416

Thousands of visitors were turned away from three Welsh museums last Saturday as staff stage a series of half day walkouts over pay and pensions.

The Big Pit mining museum in Blaenavon, Drefach Wool Museum and the Welsh Slate Museum in Llanberis, were forced to close from 1pm.

The National Museum in Cardiff, St Fagans National History Museum and the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea remained open with reduced services.

The workers, who are in the PCS union, were beginning a campaign of strikes which are scheduled to run every Saturday and Sunday afternoon in August.

Many workers get payments for working on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays. 

There are plans to cut these and stop them being part of final pension entitlements.

Neil Harrison, PCS branch chair at the National Museum, said, “Management’s proposals would see staff who work weekends lose up to £1,000 and nearly 10 percent off their final pension entitlement. 

“Museum staff have already lost 15 percent in real terms in their wages over the past four years and now they are expected to lose more.”

The museum has also introduced plans to cut £2.5 million, which will result in 23 job losses and changes to 111 other jobs.

Workers affected by the proposals include visitor services assistants who welcome more than 1.5 million visitors per year. 

They provide information and protecting the national collections of the museums.

 It also affects cleaners, who are the lowest paid staff at the museums.

The pay and bonuses of the museum bosses are not affected. Some bonuses can total the annual wage of a cleaner.

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