Staff are set to walkout from seven galleries and museums across Liverpool this month union officials have confirmed.
Almost 200 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union at National Museums Liverpool (NML) were balloted as to whether to leave their posts over a pay dispute regarding a cost-of-living payment. A resounding 94% of members have now backed taking direct action during a 28-day vote.
A total of 133 votes were cast – 69% of eligible PCS members across NML’s seven sites. Now, PCS has confirmed workers will leave their posts across eight weeks from February 17.
The union launched a campaign last year to secure a one-off payment for staff within the civil service pay remit to support them financially amid the cost of living crisis. It says this has yet to be paid to staff at NML.
The £1,500 payment, which the government was forced to make retrospectively as part of the pay offer for 2022/23, came as a result of this national campaign, which also doubled the original 2023/24 pay offer to at least 4.5%. As a result, it was announced in December that PCS members would be balloted on strike action.
It was confirmed that 125 out of 133 staff voted in favour of walkouts. Just 6% voted against the action that could last until April 14.
Casey Burgess, NML PCS branch chair, said, “The action we’re taking means a lot to our members. They have endeavoured to keep Liverpool’s fascinating stories alive through a cost-of-living crisis after working through a global pandemic.
“We’ll keep fighting to make sure that we’re paid fairly for our work.”
Fran Heathcote, PCS general secretary, added, “NML describes itself as ‘trustworthy, respectful and inclusive’, but there’s nothing trustworthy or respectful about being the only government employer not to pay its staff the cost-of-living crisis payment. Our members at NML work just as hard as our members elsewhere, so why are they not receiving the same rewards?
“NML can stop these strikes before they start by doing the decent thing for their staff and paying them what they deserve.”
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. At the time of the ballot being announced in December, NML management said that the decision from the Cabinet Office to award the cost of living payment was unexpected and they had not budgeted for the extra pay.
Strike action had also been touted at the British Museum and Welsh National Library but was avoided after negotiations. The LDRS contacted National Museums Liverpool for comment.