Strike shuts National Museum of Scotland again

Museum staff on the picket line. Picture: Jane Barlow
Museum staff on the picket line. Picture: Jane Barlow
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STRIKING staff were today set to shut down the National Museum of Scotland for a second day running, in a dispute over weekend pay.

Around 100 Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union workers at the National Museum of Scotland have gone on strike after a breakdown in talks, and families turning up at the popular attraction yesterday found themselves locked-out as a result.

The union said it is attempting to get museum management to reverse its decision to remove weekend working allowances for staff.

PCS staff walked out at 1.30pm yesterday and are set to do the same today.

Lynn Henderson, PCS Scottish secretary, said: “It was only a few weeks ago that the National Museum Scotland topped the poll as the most visited tourist attraction in Scotland, but they have come bottom of the league this week for poor industrial relations.

“Museum management and Scottish ministers have proved to be intransigent throughout the process. It is interesting that Scottish ministers approve £7 million to pay a bonus to prison officers but turn a blind eye to the lowest paid workers being stripped of payments for weekend working.”

The Museum is the most-visited tourist attraction in Scotland and re-opened in 2011 after a £47 million refurbishment project.

One family who came down from Ayrshire yesterday to visit the museum said they were disappointed they could not see the attraction.

A spokeswoman for National Museums Scotland apologised for the inconvenience caused to visitors to the museums and said the attractions will be open as normal on Saturday.

She said: “Like many other public sector organisations, National Museums Scotland has had to make a wide range of changes in order to manage the reduced budgets which have been a result of the financial crisis.

“These changes have included reducing staff numbers, reducing a range of budgets, constraining some services and introducing a change to some terms and conditions for staff newly appointed to ensure we could continue to operate within the funding available.”

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, called for all staff at the National Museum of Scotland to receive the weekend working allowance.

She said: “The National Museum is a huge asset for Edinburgh and for Scotland and it’s deeply disappointing that management are continuing to treat staff inequitably. Those staff not receiving the weekend working allowance will feel under pressure to find extra work to make ends meet, impacting on morale.

“Rather than bosses and the Government blaming each other they should be ensuring staff providing this amazing cultural service get fair treatment.”