A STRIKE by hundreds of workers in the PCS and Prospect civil servants' unions closed the British Museum in central London on Monday of this week. They were protesting against £6.5 million of cuts which will lead to the loss of 150 jobs-15 percent of the workforce. 'After two other periods of redundancies it was time to make a stand,' said Hadrian Ellory-Vandecker, the Prospect representative in the museum. 'Management will be cutting back on essential services-there will be gallery closures. There will be a large number of compulsory redundancies. It's appalling.' 'This is the first time in its 250-year history that the Museum has been closed by industrial action,' said Annette Calton, a PCS member in the conservation department. 'We know this museum is for the public, so it takes a lot to get us out. But this strike is for the future of the museum. We're going to lose experienced workers, who are specialists in certain areas, and we won't have any replacements.'
Another striker said, 'We all believe in the museum and what it stands for. Management are getting rid of conservation and research teams. This is very important work-no one else will do it if the British Museum doesn't. Something has got be done, otherwise in six months people will come to visit and most of the museum will be shut.'
The unity of both unions meant that security guards, gallery workers and research workers joined together on the picket line. The workers have voted for a series of one-day actions.
PCS and Prospect members in Edinburgh galleries have also voted overwhelmingly to strike for decent pay. Over 90 percent backed the strike plans. PCS members in London's Royal Parks are voting on industrial action over a pay dispute.
AIR TRAFFIC control could be hit by summer strikes after workers threw out a pay offer. Prospect, the union representing air traffic controllers, is to ballot its members for industrial action.
Air traffic controllers overwhelmingly voted to reject the offer of a 6 percent increase under a two-year deal.
THE HEAT is still on in the civil servants' PCS union. A judge overruled the right wing coup by discredited general secretary Reamsbottom against the elected general secretary, socialist Mark Serwotka. But Reamsbottom and his supporters have stuffed the national executive meeting set for Wednesday of this week with motions.
The undemocratic attack by the right has provoked uproar. There was set to be a lobby of the national executive meeting. A rally in defence of PCS democracy was to follow. At five union meetings in London last week a motion condemning the coup and calling for a recall conference was passed without opposition.
Meetings are being held across the country in opposition to the attacks on democracy.
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