Museums hope strike could end after new offer

Museum bosses “very much hope” a long-running dispute over pay with staff can be brought to an end as union members are balloted over a new offer.

Earlier this year, more than 100 staff from National Museums Liverpool (NML) sites began a walkout over a dispute regarding a cost-of-living payment. Pickets have been a regular fixture outside the World Museum and Museum of Liverpool following a ballot of PCS Union members.

Last weekend, it was confirmed industrial action would be suspended to allow staff to vote on new pay proposals. Responding to the announcement, a NML spokesperson said they hoped this would bring disputes to a close.

It was announced last month how it had been expected industrial action would continue into the summer after no progress had been made to break the impasse over pay. The PCS Union launched a campaign last year to secure a one-off payment of £1,500 for staff within the civil service pay remit to support them financially amid the cost of living crisis.

Museum bosses said staff were not eligible as they were not civil servants. An offer of a one-off payment of £250, to be issued on a pro-rata basis, an additional two days’ leave, and a commitment to providing free tea and coffee to be made available in all staff rooms, was rejected in April.

Following talks last week, PCS is putting the employer’s improved offer to a ballot of all members. Fran Heathcote, PCS general secretary, said, “Our members at National Museums Liverpool were furious at being excluded from a cost-of-living-crisis payment that was paid to civil servants following our national campaign.

“They then went out on picket lines in all weather conditions to fight for what they deserved. It is down to their remarkable determination and creativity that we have negotiated an offer from management which we will put to a vote of all NML members involved in the dispute in the coming days.”

National Museums Liverpool was established formally in 1986 to manage the various locations throughout the city that collate priceless artefacts. These include the Museum of Liverpool, the Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, and Lady Lever Art Gallery.

The Walker Art Gallery, Sudley House and World Museum are also managed by NML.

In a statement, an NML spokesperson said the pause in industrial action gave hope of a permanent solution to the ongoing stalemate. They said, “We are delighted to have been able to open the venues over half term whilst PCS ballot their members on a new offer.

“Strike action has been suspended until Monday June 3, after which we very much hope the dispute will be brought to an end. This means that all venues will also remain open over the coming weekend.

“The majority of venues will be closed on Monday June 3 as usual, apart from Museum of Liverpool, Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum, which will be open as part of the Cunard Queen Anne Naming Ceremony waterfront celebrations.”

Image credit: PCS Union

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