The National Museum of Scotland

Strike forces Scottish museums to close

Rebecca Atkinson, 16.04.2014
Industrial action coincides with Easter school holidays
Staff at National Museums Scotland (NMS) went on strike last week over a long-running dispute about weekend pay.

The National Museum of Scotland and the National War Museum in Edinburgh were forced to close from 13.00 on Friday when staff walked out, until 10.00 on Saturday.

Other affected museums – the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune and the National Museum of Rural Life in Kilbride – remained open during the strike, which coincided with the Easter school holidays.

The strike was organised by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union. It says some of the lowest paid museum workers are being denied the weekend working allowance, which is normally paid to compensate staff for working anti-social hours.

In January 2011, NMS introduced revised contracts for new staff who are employed to work weekends that do not include weekend working allowances.

A spokeswoman for NMS said: “It is regrettable that PCS chose to take this action during the Easter school holidays impacting on planned days out for so many children and their parents.

“Like many other public sector organisations, NMS 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 that we could continue to operate within the funding available.”

Earlier this year the PCS warned that its members would consider further action over the dispute, following a Boxing Day strike that forced the National Museum of Scotland to close.

Lynn Henderson, PCS Scottish secretary, said: “Museums staff will not tolerate the two-tier workforce. Such shameful anti-worker policies should be left in the past or at best be an artefact on display in the museum.”