Transport museum staff take action over job cuts

Felicity Heywood, Issue 105/6, p7, June 2005
Staff at London's Transport Museum (LTM) went out on strike last month as part of a transport union protest over redundancies.

Museum staff belonging to the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union voted to join London transport workers, who were striking against redundancies being made by their employer Transport for London. The LTM is owned and run by Transport for London.

A source at the museum said about 20 LTM staff, including curators, designers, retail and security staff, and volunteers, were involved in the strike. As well as supporting their transport colleagues, the museum staff were protesting against job cuts planned at the LTM.

The LTM is set to close in September for 18 months for a major refurbishment. As Museums Journal (MJ) was going to press, the museum management had earmarked 21 posts to be scrapped. In a statement to MJ, Sam Mullins, the director of the museum, said: 'The museum is currently in discussion with unions following the agreed

Organisational Change Policy, which means all staff displaced will be given the opportunity to apply for vacant posts, go into the redeployment pool, or opt for voluntary severance.' It is understood that jobs across the board, including curation, are involved in the restructuring.

A spokeswoman for the museum said that when it reopens, ten new posts are planned. But she said that management were working to improve these figures and are hoping to bring the loss of posts down to just one.

Although the museum remained open on the strike day, it coincided with the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) conference, causing Mullins to arrive too late to give his opening speech as the AIM chairman. The theme of the conference was good governance and sustainability.

Chris Gilbert, the head of business and performance at the LTM, said Transport for London had asked the museum to investigate alternative forms of governance. Staff fear that LTM's possible move to trust status is the driving force behind the redundancies. The source said: 'We don't believe they [management] have given us proper justification for the removal of jobs.'

LTM staff have said that they won't accept a single redundancy.
Union members have voted for more strike action, but as yet no dates have been set. The source said further strikes would predominantly be about the redundancies but would also address secondary issues such as health and safety, and industrial relations.