Outrageous attacks on the pensions of PCS and GMB members employed by Historic Royal Palaces, including staff at Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace, were highlighted by well-supported walkouts today.
The independent charity, Historic Royal Palaces, which manages six of the UK's unoccupied royal palaces, plans 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. In a ballot in December 91.4% of members voted yes for action on a 72% turnout.
Members, whose roles include heads of departments, Yeoman Warders, and involved in admissions, security, retail, IT and conservation at the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace, walked out for 4 hours at all sites.
There was a strong turnout on the picket line outside the Tower, which included the vast majority of members, and they also a demo. Outside Hampton Court Palace, more than 20 PCS and GMC members held a joint picket.
Further action is planned for all sites on 16 and 21 February between 11am and 3pm on each day.
Our members have made it clear to the employer what an acceptable offer would look like, including a demand for a 15% employer contribution and a lump sum, the current payments amount to over 30% of salary for each in the DB scheme.
We have asked HRP chief executive John Barnes for further negotiations and expressed that a deal would need to include 15% regular employer contributions.
Messages of support for the strikers have come in from union members and leading politicians.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “I fully support the Royal Palace staff taking action to protect their pensions. They have been forced to strike because their pensions are now at risk. Many will face a tough life after retirement if their pension is undermined in this way. These union members are courageously standing up for their basic rights.”
PCS parliamentary group chair Chris Stephens said: “The PCS parliamentary group sends a message of solidarity and support to PCS and GMB members who are taking part in joint strike action over pensions at historic royal palaces. The employer must get round the table to ensure staff have access to the basic right of a decent pension which they were promised. We wish you every success in your action.”
Various unions and union branches have also expressed their support, including:
- Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union
- United Road Transport Union
- PCS London and South East BEIS Branch
- PCS South Bank Centre Branch
- UCU Roehampton branch.
Support members taking strike action by:
- Contributing to the PCS Fighting Fund.
- Emailing messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tweeting your support using #PCSHRPpensionfight
- Urging your MP to sign early day motion 1920 raising concerns about HRP’s plans.