The Science Museum - specialist staff here could soon be taking aort ina series of one day walk outs. © Science Museum
More than 200 specialist staff at the UK’s National Museum of Science and Industry (NMSI) have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action over pay.
Members of the Prospect union at the four sites of the NMSI including staff at the Science Museum, London, the National Railway Museum, York, the National Media Museum, Bradford, and the Science Museum, Swindon have voted for a series of one-day strikes by a majority of nine to one.
According to Prospect, there is anger among museum curators, conservators, technical staff and managers who have yet to receive a pay offer due in April 2007. There is also concern over plans by the new Director of the NMSI, Martin Earwicker, to make changes to staff terms and conditions.
The NRM in York © National Railway Museum
“Members have had to endure an effective pay freeze for 10 months,” said Emily Boase, Prospect negotiations officer. “The failure to even make an offer for 2007 pay is incompetence of the highest order.”
Prospect said there is also concern among staff that plans are afoot to sever their formal ties with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Treasury. At present the NMSI is classified as a Non- Departmental Public Body.
“That would threaten its access to grant-in-aid and effectively turn the museum into a purely commercial enterprise, with tragic consequences for its national collection,” added Boase.
The National Media Museum. © National Media Museum
The vast potential for commercial sponsorship, together with a strengthened learning strategy, is something the NMSI has been looking at closely in the last two years. Since 2007 all day-to-day operations of the Museums have been brought alongside their commercial activities, which have been put under the leadership of the Managing Director of NMSI Trading Ltd.
Prospect say the new Trading Company has its own inferior terms and conditions for staff, which they believe will be used as a model for the rest of the staff at the museums.
A final decision on the plans for the industrial action have been put on hold until February 26 2008 when union representatives will hold a final negotiating meeting with management.
Inside one of the Science Museum Swindon hangars. © Science Museum Swindon
NMSI warders, security and administrative staff represented by the PCS union have also been balloted on strike action.