PCS members working for Historic Royal Palaces are being balloted this week over possible action to defend their pensions against massive proposed cuts.
HRP, 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.
Our members are 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.
Negotiations with the employer have resulted twice in a slightly better offer being made to transition over to a defined contribution pension scheme, and we won an extension to the closure, which is now March 2019. But the improvements are not enough for PCS members.
Our members have overwhelmingly rejected the changes put forward by HRP to the defined benefits pension scheme in two consultative ballots. They want to reach an agreement over their pension provisions through negotiations, but their anger and resolve to fight the closure and take further action is strong.
On 29 October, PCS wrote to the CEO John Barnes and HR director Graham Josephs to invite them to further negotiations and to call on them to suspend the scheme’s closure so we could further explore all options and reach an agreement that is acceptable to all parties. As management turned down our invitation to further negotiations then the internal procedures have been exhausted and we are in a trade dispute with Historic Royal Palaces.
As a consequence we are now balloting members over proposed strike action to defend their pensions. The ballot runs from Friday (30 November) until the following Friday (7 December) and if members vote for industrial action walkouts could take place before Christmas at all 3 sites.
Members’ meetings are taking place this week to discuss the campaign. We remain committed to negotiations to seek to resolve this dispute.