Wales

National Museum Wales: Prospect union's consultative ballot over cuts

National Museum Cardiff
Image caption The museum has completed a consultation with staff over the plans

Specialist staff at the National Museum Wales are being balloted on whether they would consider strike action over planned savings cuts.

The museum which employs staff at seven sites says it has to find savings of about £2.5m and has no option but to review its structure.

But the Prospect union, which is asking 200 members for opinions, says its members are being targeted unfairly.

The cuts could mean world-class specialists being lost, it claims.

The museum has not yet announced details of its restructuring which was revealed in January alongside 35 job cuts.

Gareth Howells, negotiations officer for Prospect, confirmed that a consultative ballot with union members there was under way until 15 May.

'Unique expertise'

He said the museum has just completed a 90-day consultation exercise with unions and staff over their proposed change programme.

"This has been instigated to make £2.5m savings over the next three years, but also involves reorganisation, with the potential loss of 35 specialist posts.

"The programme will impact mainly on 160 posts in the curatorial, conservation and learning departments, resulting in the loss of unique expertise to Wales, downgrading of posts and a reduction in capability."

Mr Howells said they were asking members at the museum whether they would take strike action or other forms of protest.

He also said the union believed the cuts were being applied disproportionally with some departments facing budget reductions of 35%, with no cuts at all to senior managers.

'Severe blow'

Another concern was that staff's specialist knowledge used by other institutions in Wales could be permanently lost if the cuts go ahead, Mr Howells said.

"Prospect believes that the people of Wales deserve a world-class national museum, with world-class staff to support an institution they can be proud of and rely on.

"The fear is that cuts in central funding to the museum will deliver a severe blow to this key cultural icon of a first-world nation."

In a statement, the National Museum Wales said: "Faced with a reduced budget, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales has to find around £2.5 million in savings and therefore had no option but to review the structure of the organization in order to meet the deficit."

It said the museum sector was evolving and the museum has to "refocus" to meet visitors' changing expectations.

"Staff and trade Unions have fully engaged in the consultation regarding the proposed new structure for the museum, contributing positively to the process," said the museum.

"Valuable discussions have taken place over the 90-day period.

"The senior management team has considered all of the suggestions received, which have informed and strengthened the final structure. This will be presented to staff over the coming weeks.

"We realise that this has been a difficult time for everyone, and that it will remain challenging while the changes are implemented."

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