Industrial action update - 30 April

An update from Director of National Museums Liverpool Laura Pye on strike action and its impact from early May through to mid-July

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Tuesday 30 April 2024

Following eight consecutive weeks of industrial action, it is with a heavy heart that I have to confirm some of our venues will be closed during weekends and half term from early May through to mid-July due to further strikes after PCS rejected our final offer.

This offer included a £750 one-off non-consolidated payment, an increase in annual leave to 30 days plus Bank Holidays (an additional ongoing cost of approximately £100,000 per year) and a commitment to shut down the venues every Christmas Eve (as well as Christmas Day and Boxing Day as we already do).

I would like to assure our visitors and colleagues that we will continue to meet with PCS to have meaningful conversations and have reached out to Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), to support us to mediate a solution. Acas is an independent public body that provides free and impartial advice on employment rights, best practice and policies.

However, as we have said before, without additional support from National Government, there’s very little we can do in addition to what has already been offered. The truth of the matter is, we simply cannot afford the £1,500 one-off cost of living Civil Service Payment, which PCS members believe they are entitled to.

As we have addressed with PCS, NML has never promised this payment. We were very clear when it was announced by the government that unless an additional grant in aid payment was given to us to cover this, we would be unable to pay it. National Government has also been very clear that the payment was promised to civil servants and because NML colleagues are not civil servants they were not eligible.

We would like to reiterate what NML did promise and has delivered on in terms of pay and conditions since 2019/20 when we started working with PCS and Prospect unions on a new approach:

  • All colleagues doing the same job would earn the same amount for that job regardless of length of service - we have delivered this. 
  • All colleagues would earn the market rate for their role or real living wage (whichever was highest). We also promised to maintain a differential from real living wage colleagues and the next grade of 7.4% - we have delivered this. 
  • To equalise holiday allowances up to 28 days plus bank holidays - we have delivered this. 
  • To continue to pay into the civil service pension scheme for charity colleagues (the employer contribution has been at least 26%), and to work towards a better contribution for trading company colleagues – the latter is still ongoing. 

In delivering all the above, NML has seen average wages increase by 14% since 2019/20 at a cost of an additional £2.4M a year. The extra holiday allowance is costing NML an additional £120,000 a year and pension contributions are set to rise to 29% from the new financial year at an additional cost of around £100,000 a year. We firmly believe that this was the right thing for us as an organisation, to support our colleagues over a difficult financial period. 

Making this one-off payment would put increased pressure on a budget which is already in a difficult place, taking us below our minimum reserve level.

We hope that the dispute can be resolved in the near future for both the enjoyment of our visitors and the people that give National Museums Liverpool its heart – our colleagues.

Our venues will be open as normal from Tuesday to Friday but please visit our website before you visit to check opening hours over weekends and Bank Holidays.