Wallace Collection in talks with union after pay protest

Tilda Coleman, 12.12.2019
Industrial action could be on the table if discussions fail
Talks are taking place between the Wallace Collection and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union after staff staged a protest at the London museum last week over pay.

Neither PCS Union or the Wallace Collection said they could comment on talks. The museum has been involved in a dispute with the union over demands for its staff to be paid the London Living Wage. 

After engaging in discussions initiated by the PCS earlier this year, the Wallace Collection made an offer in November of a below-inflation 1.5% pay rise for all staff. 

In response, the union to stage a protest outside the museum on 3 December at the evening opening of a new exhibition. Participants were mainly PCS members from the Wallace Collection, but a few union members from the Southbank Centre, the Tate and other art workers also showed support. Gordon Nardell, the Labour candidate for Cities of London and Westminster, joined and spoke at the protest. 

Clara Paillard, president of the PCS Culture Group, said the museum’s original pay offer had beem “derisory” because it is “below inflation and lower than most national museums have offered this year”. 

She added that the museum’s lowest paid staff are paid well below the London Living Wage, which is currently set at £10.75 per hour, and that “while the cost of living, housing and transport is so high, staff at the Wallace deserve decent pay”. 

Paillard said: “Protesting was a decision we took because no negotiations had taken place with the PCS union. We are pleased that the Wallace has asked to meet us this week and we hope a better offer can be achieved.” 

The Wallace Collection did not comment on specifics regarding the ongoing discussions, but said in a statement: “The Wallace Collection staff team are enormously valued and are our biggest asset in sharing the collection with as wide an audience as possible. 

“Income generation and fundraising are also top priorities for the wider team to ensure a continued sustainable financial future for the organisation.” 

The museum added that it hoped to “reach a satisfactory resolution for all parties shortly”. 

Paillard said that if the talks do not result in a better offer, the union “will consider our next steps, including more protesting and industrial action”.