Wales politics

Big pay-offs to museum bosses criticised by AMs

National Museum Wales strike action
Image caption Staff protested outside Swansea's National Waterfront Museum in August

Generous pensions and pay-offs offered to National Museum Wales bosses while in a pay dispute with rank-and-file staff have been criticised by AMs.

The Public Accounts Committee said big pay-outs were having a negative impact on the museum's image.

Strikes have hit museums in 2015 in a long-running pay dispute over ending "premium payments" to weekend staff.

NMW agreed it needed to bring its severance and pension schemes into line with other public sector bodies.

National Museum Wales runs seven sites, including the National Museum in Cardiff and Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon.

'Perception'

In a report, published on Friday, the committee said: "The National Museum's pension and severance scheme appears to be an outlier in relation to other Welsh public sector organisations.

"Setting this against the current pay dispute with the museum's lowest paid staff, the committee are concerned about the negative impact this has had on the public's perception of the National Museum, particularly in light of recent pay-outs to the museum's senior staff while there appear to be cuts in pay to the museum's lowest paid staff."

The report said the average cost per redundancy pay-out was £40,429 in 2014-15, lower than in previous years but still "well above" the Welsh average.

Darren Millar, the Conservative AM who chairs the committee, said: "People need to have confidence that the public bodies charged with carrying out the many services we need in Wales are delivering effectively and getting value for money."

Image caption Big Pit at Blaenavon in Torfaen is a National Museum Wales attraction

In a statement NMW said: "We fully recognise that changes to our severance and pension schemes are necessary, to bring them in line with other public sector organisations.

"Staff are currently being consulted on the proposed changes to our pension scheme and we are currently in discussion with our recognised trade unions and staff on changes to the severance scheme."

The statement added some charges had been introduced for some services, in a bid to increase the museums' income.

The committee also examined the National Library of Wales' attempts to recoup costs from a contractor following a serious fire in 2013, questioning whether this represented value for money.

The library said it still hoped that some of the legal costs, amounting to £75,000, could still be recovered from the company, which is in liquidation.

Chief executive and librarian Linda Tomos said: "We feel the Welsh public would expect us to seek recompense when we and our advisers thought possible."

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