Arthur Scargill visits striking workers at National Coal Mining Museum - Museums Association

Arthur Scargill visits striking workers at National Coal Mining Museum

Museum guides take action over pay offer they say falls far short of inflation rates
Workers have been on strike at the National Coal Mining Museum all week
Workers have been on strike at the National Coal Mining Museum all week

Workers on the picket line at the National Coal Mining Museum (NCM) in Wakefield have received a visit from Arthur Scargill, the former president of the National Union of Mineworkers who led the miners’ strike of 1984-85.

The workers, many of whom are former coalminers who now work as museum guides, are taking action in response to a pay offer they say falls far short of soaring inflation rates.

The museum has been closed throughout half-term week due to the strike, which is due to end on 30 October.

Unison, the public service union, said its members at the museum had no choice but to take action, with 94.4% of them voting in favour of the strike.

The union's Wakefield District secretary Sam Greenwood said: “Last week we attended what we believed would be pay negotiations with the employer but museum representatives merely restated that pay offer that had previously been made and stated they were not prepared to improve upon it.


“The museum is blaming a ‘pay cap’ that they state the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has imposed upon them but they have provided Unison with no evidence of this. Inflation is currently at 10 per cent and the museum’s offer is less than half of that.

“That means our members will struggle to cope with the cost of living crisis and some already rely on in-work benefits and wage supplements because their pay is so low.

“Unison has conducted a statutory industrial action ballot and 94.4 per cent of members voted for strike action on an 87.7 per cent turnout.

“Members don’t want to go on strike but the museum is leaving them with no choice.”

The museum guides claim their hourly pay has increased by just £1.16 since 2008, to £10.35, according to the Yorkshire Post.

One guide, who asked to remain anonymous, told BBC Radio Leeds: “We’re not being unreasonable. We’ve been forced into the action that we’ve taken here and we’re hoping that this action that we’re taking will make them sit down and realise that this is for real.”


A spokeswoman for the NCM said earlier this week: “The museum, a charity, cares about the welfare of its staff and volunteers and has offered the staff a pay rise which equates to 6.8% for the lowest paid staff.

“We value the contribution of our people enormously and the sum of the proposal takes us to the maximum allowed within the Government Pay Remit.

“Even at this late hour we still hope that this situation can be resolved, particularly as the strike is timed for school holidays which will deny our visitors, many of them children, the chance to hear the story of mining and understand the contribution generations of miners made to our nation.”

The museum has been contacted for further comment.

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