Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire organiser
13% over four years. That’s how much workers in the Science Museum Group (SMG) have lost in pay over the last four years of below-inflation pay deals.
Members of the Prospect trade union across the SMG, which includes the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and the National Railway Museum in York, took 24-hour strike action on 30 August demanding as a minimum, the Living Wage Foundation rates of pay.
The SMG gets 40% of its funding from central government which, given the squeezing of culture funding, staff expect the current government to freeze. However, the SMG made a £4.4 million surplus in 2018-19 including a £1.3 million tax credit which can be spent however SMG management chooses.
This hypocrisy has outraged staff in the museums. In York, one placard pointed out the SMG director’s bonus was more than their annual wage!
Although a few workers have been on strike before (including a veteran of the 1977 firefighters strike in York), many of the workers were taking strike action for the first time. But that doesn’t make them any less determined to make their voices heard.
In Bradford staff are not only concerned about their own plight but also with workers facing winter closing and reduced hours at the council, where Unite are currently balloting staff. Clearly there is scope for workers in the culture sector to come together to challenge cuts to services and the low pay rife throughout the sector.