There has been strong support for walkouts by PCS members against attacks on staff pensions at 3 famous sites managed by Historic Royal Palaces.
The independent charity that manages six of the UK's unoccupied royal palaces, is planning to close its defined benefits pension scheme to future accruals and move the 120 staff who are members of the scheme into a defined contribution scheme. This will result in our members receiving, in some cases, massively less pension than they had been promised.
3-hour walkouts took place at Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace and Tower of London today, where our members are heads of departments, Yeoman Warders, and involved in admissions, security, retail, IT and conservation and are due to be repeated on 28 December and 2 January. There was a good turnout on the vocal picket line outside the Tower with more than 20 people present. There was great public support and lots of press interest. Groups of tourists cheered our picket and there was lots of support from across the labour movement with Poetry on the Picket line and the TUC showing solidarity. At Kensington Palace we had 50% of those in the current scheme were on the picket line – one member was on her rest day but came to the picket line. Some staff members come out to show their support. We gave out leaflets to the public, all of whom showed support and wished us luck.
There was also a good turnout on the picket line at Hampton Court, with strikers joined by supporters and members throughout the entire 3 hours, including unexpectedly Superman. There was also lots of support from the public and cars beeping horns in solidarity with the main entrance next to a busy road. Everyone who took part today said they would return next Friday and the mood was determined. A striker gave a phone interview to City AM newspaper.
John McDonnell, shadow chancellor and former PCS parliamentary chair and honorary president, sent his support to the strikers: “I send my 100% support and solidarity to all those taking action to protect their pension rights. Pensions are simply saved wages and the undermining of pension rights in this way undermines the security of our members after retirement. I am proud of our members who have displayed such determination to withstand this attack on their pension.”
One striking worker told Metro: “It is pretty galling that we will be thousands of pounds worse off when we retire when some of us guard the crown jewels for a living.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The unwarranted attack on our members’ pensions has forced them to vote for strike action. Our members are not paid a king’s ransom and the pension is one of the things that encourages people to stay in the job and deliver a first class service to the public. People who treasure these historic buildings in London should be left in no doubt that any disruption caused due to strike action, will be solely down to HRP’s intransigence in not paying our members a decent pension.”
There has been considerable media coverage, with articles on these websites:
Urge your MP to support the campaign
The campaign to fight for our members’ pensions at Historic Royal Palaces could be debated in parliament.
Our parliamentary group chair Chris Stephens has tabled early day motion 1920 which raises concern about the plans. It also notes the “negative financial impact this will have on those who are currently in the defined benefits scheme, with some receiving substantially reduced pensions”.