Socialist Worker

Action gets results as museum workers in Wales end eight week strike

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2509

Workers at a union meeting on Friday when the vote was announced

Workers at a union meeting on Friday when the vote was announced (Pic: Hands Off our Weekend - Fair pay in National Museums Wales)

Striking workers at National Museum Wales have voted to end their dispute after forcing concessions from bosses in their fight over weekend pay.

PCS union members voted by 78 percent on an 81 percent turnout to end their all-out strike after more than eight weeks. The ballot results were announced yesterday, Friday.

They had been striking indefinitely since 28 April against bosses’ attempts to scrap weekend premium payments—a move which could cost some workers as much as £3,000 a year.

The deal strikers have got from bosses is a clear improvement on previous offers—and shows that all-out action gets results.

Bosses have agreed to pay workers compensation buyouts equal to five years of weekend payments.

Workers have the option to take this as a lump sum, spread out over five years, or over four years with pension contribution deductions.

The deal also means no worker will have to work more than 50 percent of weekends in a year.

Leading PCS officials had recommended acceptance of the offer, and many strikers see the result as a victory.

PCS assistant branch secretary Geraint Parfitt told Socialist Worker, “It was accepted almost unanimously.


“I’m quite impressed. For a branch of just over 200 members to achieve this, it shows that if we can do it, anyone can do it”.

The fight to save the premiums had lasted for more than two years. But it was only when the workers launched their all-out strike this year that the Welsh first minster, Labour’s Carwyn Jones, stepped in to broker a deal.

Welsh ministers had previously tried to keep the dispute at arm’s length despite the fact that the museums are publically funded.

But there are also problems with the deal—and some strikers are rightly unhappy with it.

The deal means that workers no longer get recognition for weekend working once the buyouts have been paid in full.

New starters will not get the compensation, meaning a split workforce until all the existing workers have been paid their full buyouts.

There are also concerns that the deal could commit the PCS to working with bosses to make cuts.

Geraint said, “Some of the members aren’t happy. For some there’s still the principle of weekend working”.

But the deal is testament to the strikers’ determination to stay out so long. And Geraint thanked their supporters for the solidarity that’s helped strikers keep going.

He said, “We’ve been all over the country talking to people to raise support.

“I’m happy to go anywhere and tell people what we’ve done. And if anyone wants us to support them when they fight, I’m happy to go out and show solidarity”.

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