Science museums staff vote to take strike action

Stephenson's Rocket steam locomotive sits on display at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry Image copyright Christopher Furlong
Image caption The Manchester Museum of Science and Industry is among the museums that could be affected

Some of England's most popular museums could have their summer season hit by strike action in a dispute over pay.

The Prospect union said its Science Museum Group members backed walkouts by 4-1 in protest at a wage rise of 1.5%.

The dispute affects a group of museums including London's Science Museum and York's National Railway Museum.

The Science Museums Group said it was disappointed by the outcome of the ballot and its offer was worth 6.9% to the lowest paid employees.

The dispute involves the Science Museum in London, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, York's National Railway Museum, Blythe House in London and the National Collections Centre in Wroughton, Wiltshire.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The Science Museum said it had made a "reasonable and affordable pay offer given the challenging overall financial picture"

The Prospect union said the strike action involved "several hundred" staff, but it did not have a precise figure.

Union spokeswoman Sharon Brown said: "This is a very strong result in favour of industrial action and shows the strength of feeling within the Science Museum Group (SMG).

"Our members in SMG love what they do but they cannot carry on with year after year of real-terms pay cuts.

"SMG covers some of the top tourist attractions in the country with more than five million people visiting its sites in 2017-18, more than three million at the Science Museum alone.

"People will be astonished at how poorly its staff are paid, especially when they see that the director has seen his pay increase by a third in just four years.

The Science Museum Group said: "We are disappointed by the outcome of Prospect Union's ballot and will seek to minimise any disruption to the public's enjoyment of our museums should the union decide to go ahead with industrial action.

"Our pay offer included a 6.9% increase for the lowest paid employees as part of a settlement that saw all employees receive an increase of at least 1.5%.

"Overall the settlement represents a 2.7% increase in salary costs which we believe was a reasonable offer, given the challenging overall financial picture."

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