Workers at the National Museum Wales entered the third week of an all-out strike this week as politicians wrangled over who would lead the Welsh government.
The PCS union members went on indefinite strike at the end of last month as part of a two-year fight against an attack on their pay.
Museum bosses want to scrap weekend premium payments. Some workers could lose as much as £3,000 a year. Extra weekend working could disrupt workers’ family lives.
This Thursday marked three weeks since the all-out strike began.
Talks between bosses and union officials continued as Socialist Worker went to press. Any agreement that requires more funding will have to be approved by the Welsh Assembly.
Around 100 strikers rallied outside the Senedd—the Welsh Assembly building—in Cardiff on Wednesday of last week. The rally came on the day that Assembly Members (AMs) met to form a new Welsh government following the 5 May elections.
The strikers demanded that Welsh Labour Party leader and incumbent first minister Carwyn Jones honours his promise to intervene in their dispute.
They were joined by 20 AMs from Labour and Plaid Cymru offering support.
But Labour was unable to form a government after Plaid Cymru nominated its leader Leanne Wood as Welsh first minister in opposition to Jones.
Wood and Jones got the same number of votes, meaning neither could form a government.
The strikers’ PCS branch vice chair Geraint Parfitt was at the rally. He told Socialist Worker, “With the vote today meaning Jones couldn’t form a government we’ll have to wait a little longer to see what happens. But Leanne Wood is behind us as well.”
He added, “There was a lot of support from AMs from Labour and Plaid Cymru such as Bethan Jenkins and Lynne Neagle. They were really supportive of us. It boosted strikers’ confidence.”
In the meantime it’s crucial that the strikers continue to get support and donations to the strike fund to help them keep going.
Strikers also rallied in Swansea last Saturday. They were joined by members from other sections of the PCS, as well as other unions such as Unison and the NUJ.
Cardiff strikers visited London on Thursday of last week (see below). They raised hundreds of pounds for the strike fund after visiting the Equity union offices, the RMT union’s national executive and other PCS members at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Strikers from the Slate Museum also visited Liverpool on Tuesday. More solidarity visits were set to take place, including a visit to Bristol by miners from the Big Pit coal mining museum on Wednesday of this week.
‘People can help us in our plight’
Two strikers from the National Museum in Cardiff spoke at a solidarity meeting in London last week.
Striker Mike Corbridge told the meeting that they represented some of “the poorest paid” workers in the museum.
He added, “Management have used bullying tactics saying that if we don’t sign the new conditions they’ll sack us and rehire us on the new contracts. They treat us like we don’t do a good job when we do.”
Candy Udwin, a PCS rep from the National Gallery, where workers went on all-out strike last year, told the strikers they are “a beacon for us all”.
She said, “If you win it will be an inspiration for us all.”
Mike appealed for solidarity to help the strike win. He said, “People can help us by signing the petition, writing to management and donating whatever they can to support us in our plight against management.”