Trades Union Congress calls for end to ‘second class pay’ in heritage sector - Museums Association

Trades Union Congress calls for end to ‘second class pay’ in heritage sector

Motion carried to recognise value of heritage and develop sustainable funding model
Cuts Education Pay
Prospect held a fringe event at the TUC annual congress last week
Prospect held a fringe event at the TUC annual congress last week Prospect

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called for an end to the "regime of second class pay in the heritage sector".

Conditions in the arts and heritage sector were highlighted by the union Prospect at the TUC's annual congress in Liverpool last week.

A motion proposed by Prospect, “time to value arts, heritage and creative industries”, was unanimously passed by delegates representing 48 unions in England and Wales.

In addition to calling for better pay, congress demanded the reversal of cuts to art education.  

The motion recognised that arts and heritage make a huge contribution to the UK economy but that public funding for arts and heritage is often seen as an easy target for cost-cutting.

According to the motion: “Successive rounds of austerity at national and local levels have cut funding to the bone, resulting in the loss of key community venues.

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It continued: “For too long world-class arts and heritage have relied on low pay, insecure and precarious work with no opportunities for career progression. For too many people, working in these sectors is becoming unaffordable.

“Congress calls for an end to this regime of second class pay. For the UK to continue to be a leading cultural centre, we must safeguard nationally significant institutions and the highly skilled jobs associated with them. We need a new approach to funding for heritage and the arts.”

The motion called on the TUC general council to devise a fair and sustainable funding model for arts and heritage, and lobby all relevant government bodies for this to be implemented.

According to the motion, present and future governments should also be lobbied to reverse cuts to funding for arts education, and to develop a coordinated approach to ensure that different areas of government work together to create an overarching art provision policy.

Sue Ferns, senior deputy general secretary of Prospect, said: “Heritage is a sector that is vital for tourism and for the economy, yet its workers, many of whom are extremely highly qualified, are often paid a pittance.

“The TUC unanimously passing our motion shows just how important museums and other heritage institutions are to the labour movement, to preserving and communicating our history to the public.

“It’s time the government funded the sector properly and that government and employers demonstrated the value of workers in this sector, and the value of the sector to us all, by paying a reasonable wage. Our heritage is too important to do it on the cheap.”

Polling by Prospect recently found that 60% of the public are worried about funding cuts leading to closure of local heritage and cultural attractions. 

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