Socialist Worker

‘It’s not rocket science—fair pay now,’ say museums strikers

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2678

Picketing in Bradford

Picketing in Bradford (Pic: Neil Terry)

Workers at Science Museums across England struck for a second time on Wednesday in a battle over pay.

The members of the Prospect union at museums in London, Manchester, Bradford, York and Wiltshire walked out to demand a living wage.

They took action to reject a paltry pay increase of just 1.5 percent. It would be the latest below inflation increase—effectively a pay cut—since 2011. They’re demanding at least the living wage of £9 an hour, or £10.55 an hour in London.

Luke Jackson, a striker at the Science Museum in west London, told Socialist Worker, “When you’re living in London on less than the London Living Wage you’re living month to month, pay cheque to pay cheque.

“I’m on £18,500 a year for a full time job. It’s not horrific, but it’s not enough for London and it’s not as much as wages at other museums.”

Strikers in London rallied outside the museum entrance ahead of opening time, chanting “It’s not rocket science—fair pay now.”

Bosses at the museum group say they can’t afford to pay strikers the living wage—and that all their funding is already allocated. Yet Science Museum Group director Sir Ian Blatchford has had a five percent pay increase every year for the last five a years—plus yearly bonuses of £20,000 or more.

And after just one strike by workers in September, bosses conceded they could pay a living wage next year—having first claimed they wouldn’t be able to for four years.

Claire Hosell, another striker in London, said, “Our directors get a bonus every year. For some of the staff here a director’s bonus is more than their salary—it’s incomprehensible.”

But she added that, after the recent offer, the strikers “feel like we’re making a difference”.

Picketing in London

Picketing in London (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Strikers say bosses’ latest offer was to pay the lowest paid workers in line with rates set by the living wage foundation—but only for a year.

Luke said, “We’re feeling confident because there’s been some concessions from management since last time. People felt good about that offer because it feels like we’re moving forward.”

He added that the action had “created solidarity and community” among the strikers.

The strikers say they’re determined to keep fighting until bosses give them the pay rise they deserve.

Claire said, “We’re not afraid to keep doing this. We’re fighting for our pay, for our rights and for our staff.”

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.