Strikers outside National Museum Wales in Cardiff last year

Further strikes at Welsh museums

Gareth Harris, 03.08.2015
Amgueddfa Cymru venues close over weekend
A strike organised by members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) disrupted museums across Wales last weekend.

The industrial action at Wales’ national museums is the latest development in a long-running dispute over the decision of Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales) to scrap premium payments for weekend working.
St Fagans National History Museum and National Museum Cardiff opened on 1 August but with limited services.

The National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, the National Slate Museum in Llanberis and the National Wool Museum in Dre-fach Felindre were closed on 1 August. Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenafon was closed all weekend.
PCS said in a statement that losing the premium payments would result in a reduction of £2,000 to £3,000 annually for “many already low-paid staff”, including cleaners, museum assistants and technical staff.

The payments make up as much as 15% of salaries of front-of-house staff, the union added.
But National Museum Wales said in a statement that it had taken measures to soften the impact.

“Our proposal, which takes into account the interest of staff at all levels, includes increasing the basic pay of our lowest paid staff by 4% during the next financial year," a spokeswoman from National Museum Wales said. "This is in addition to the 4% increase those staff members have received since 2011."

The museum's budget, of which more than 85% comes from the Welsh government, has been cut by 20% in the past four years.
National Museum Wales has pledged to introduce the living wage of £7.85 an hour, and says it will protect the pensions of those affected by the move. It will continue to pay premium payments for bank holiday shifts, but these would no longer be pensionable.  
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has organised a meeting between the union and museum representatives for 5 August.

“We are seeking a negotiated settlement,” a spokeswoman for the PCS said. 

National Museum Wales reached an agreement with Prospect union over the issue early last month.