The Royal Household has decided to take drastic action to repair the financial damage that the pandemic has caused, by introducing three tiers of cuts.
- A pay freeze for the whole Royal Household, to be reassessed in the spring of 2021.
- The Royal Household want to save 20% on their wage bill, with the Royal Collection Trust (RCT) being the only department expected to face the cuts. Firstly by voluntary severance but then by redundancies if not enough staff come forward.
- Additional savings are proposed by cutting the Royal Household pension contribution for the Royal Collection Trust staff only, from 15% to 8%. The other four departments in the Royal Household will be unaffected.
PCS believe this is outrageously unfair. The RCT has contributed £80 million in facilities management fees to the cost of running the Royal Household in the past 20 years. However the RCT is the only department of the Royal Household to be facing jobs and pensions cuts despite being a cash cow for the Royal Household for many years.
Voluntary Severance Scheme
The severance package will be a welcome windfall for a small minority members. However for the vast majority that need a job the package is too small for reasonable consideration. The prospect of compulsory redundancy, on much worse terms, at a time of a recession is a frightening prospect.
In our meeting with Royal Household on 16 July we were informed that so far only 38 people had applied for the Voluntary Severance Scheme which is only a fraction of what would be required for the RCT to meet its target of a 20% saving on the wage bill. This means that there it is very likely that RCT will look to run a compulsory redundancy exercise. Members will be well aware that this will be on significantly worse terms that the Voluntary Severance Scheme.
PCS does not accept that anyone should have their pension cut. The people who earn the big salaries are in the other departments will keep the 15%, while the lowest earners who will need it the most in retirement are in the RCT Department and are the ones who will suffer.
PCS has been informed that up to 70% of members have contractual rights to their 15% employers’ pension contributions. This means that in order to cut pensions to 8% many members will have to agree to a change in their contracts. PCS is exploring what this will mean for members and will consult with you to decide what next steps to take to fight against this unfair change.
The 15% pension contribution is the last real benefit remaining for RCT staff. Over the past few years members have lost our overtime and our 15 minute changing time at the start and end of the working day. Members at Windsor Castle will have never received hot lunch promised in line with Buckingham Palace and Holyrood.
One Royal Household
Over the years the Royal Household has fostered the idea that all departments, including the RCT are part of one cohesive organisation, one Royal Household. This idea has been shattered as the lower paid workers of RCT are expected to take a big hit while the rest of the Household remain relatively unscathed. This is demonstratively unfair.
PCS is calling for the Royal Family to not abandon RCT in its hour of need. PCS members are the first point of contact for the many visitors to historic and iconic royal buildings that house vast collections of important art and historical artefacts. PCS is clear that the structure of the Royal Household where the Royal Collection Trust is a charity established by the monarch and chaired by Prince Charles, at arm’s length from the rest of the Royal Household, is fundamentally flawed and in need of a radical overhaul.
PCS members meeting
At a recent well attended meeting of PCS members using Zoom technology members 90% of members who participated voted in favour of strike action to defend their jobs and pensions. PCS will further test the mood for industrial action using an on-line poll.
We urge all members to support the call to strike, which at this stage will not commit us to striking but will test the strength of the mood in order that we can put pressure on the Royal Collection Trust to change their decision. We would hope that colleagues who are interested in the Voluntary Severance Scheme would show solidarity with their colleagues facing a very uncertain future who do not want to leave.
Access for all – bail out
All visitors deserve to have access to these buildings and the works that they house. The nation, in the form of the Royal Family and the government, should step up to so that this is still possible by ensuring that there is full funding to allow PCS members to deliver this important service.