National Museum staff strike to close attraction for week

National Museum of Scotland staff are set to strike. Picture: Toby Williams
National Museum of Scotland staff are set to strike. Picture: Toby Williams
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STAFF at the National Museum of Scotland are set to strike from Monday in a move expected to close the attraction for a full week at the height of the festivals season.

The action, due to involve 120 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), is part of a long-running dispute over the withdrawal of weekend working allowances which the PCS claims can cost workers up to £3000.

Crunch talks are scheduled to take place today between management and the union facilitated by the conciliatory service ACAS. But the union said it was determined to win the dispute, now in its 18th month.

Previous strike action has closed the museum to the public and the PCS said it was confident the doors would remain firmly shut for the duration of next week’s walkout.

The allowance for working 
Saturday and Sundays was withdrawn for new staff employed after 2011, resulting in two rates of pay for those working weekends. The PCS is campaigning to get the allowance reinstated for all staff.

It said it had long protested at low pay levels for its members at the museum, but the withdrawal of the allowance reduced some members’ pay by £2000 to £3000.

Lynn Henderson, PCS 
Scottish Secretary, said today, “Our members are determined to win this dispute. It is heartening to note that the support is as strong with members who get the allowance as with those who don’t. We call on NMS management and the Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop to right this wrong.

“It is one thing to say that you oppose austerity measures and low pay but when it’s in your gift to do something about it, for relatively little money, the Scottish Government choose to do nothing about it.

“Our members are prepared to escalate action taken to date, but even at this late stage action can be avoided if we receive an acceptable, improved offer. Whether the strike goes ahead or not is in the gift of those who removed the allowance.”

A spokesman for National Museums Scotland confirmed they had received official notification of the strike next week.

He said: “If this proceeds, the action is likely to cause disruption to the National Museum of Scotland and the National War Museum.”

Referring to today’s talks, he said: “We remain fully committed to a process of dialogue and we hope progress can be made towards a positive outcome. These talks were scheduled and agreed to on both sides before this action was announced, so we are surprised and disappointed at PCS’s decision to call for strike action”.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com