Cardiff and Swansea museum workers strike

MUSEUM workers in South Wales last week went on strike and took to the streets to protest about cuts to the lowest paid staff for shifts worked on Saturdays.

Demonstrations took place at the National Museum in Cathays Park, Cardiff, and at Swansea Waterfront Museum.

Workers in Cardiff then headed to Cardiff City Stadium to join Cardiff People’s Assembly and Public and Commercial Services Union members, to fundraise and give out leaflets before Cardiff City’s game with Bolton Wanderers.

This was as part of action taken by workers at six Welsh museums who are going on strike over four weekends during April because of a threat to scrap unsocial payments for weekend working.

Ten museum workers were at each of the demonstrations outside the Cardiff and Swansea museums. Cate Hopkins, site representative for Cathays Park, said: “We’ve had a good day. We haven’t counted what we raised yet but we’ve got buckets of pound coins — it’s adding to our strike fund.”

In Swansea the protest lasted almost two hours. Gallery assistant Hannah Lawson, site representative for the Swansea museum, said: “We feel it is unjust the way cuts are being imposed on the lowest wage earners. I earn £10,000 a year with a part-time job, and I’m set to lose £1,500 of that.

“We appreciate that Wales has a huge cut from Westminster, and the museum has lost various grants, but we have put various initiatives forward which would still reduce staff costs which have been rejected — including reducing weekend shifts if staff are not being paid as much for them.

“Some of our staff in Cardiff work 35 weekends, and is it worth them missing spending all that time with family if they are not being paid fairly for their work?”

Shavanah Taj, the Public and Commercial Services Union Wales secretary, added: “The contrast between Wales and Scotland could hardly be greater. In Scotland, there has been a recognition that the dispute could only be settled through negotiations, on terms that both sides could accept.

“An improved offer has therefore been made and accepted by the workforce. Here in Wales, however, management continue to refuse to negotiate with us.”

National Museum Wales director general David Anderson has previously said that the service can no longer afford to pay £70,000 a month in premium payments. He said the Welsh Government had made it clear to him and to PCS that it has no more money to give to the museum network

He has confirmed that dismissal notices will be issued in the summer to all employees who had not signed up for the new pay deal. Around 200 staff out of a total workforce of about 600 receive premium payments.