PCS announces British Museum strikes after 'deeply insulting' refusal to pay £1,500 lump sum

Union warns of further disruption if employers fail to commit to making the payment
PCS strikes outside the British Museum in February

By Tevye Markson

28 Jun 2023

PCS has announced strikes at the British Museum after it said the public body refused to offer its employees the £1,500 lump sum government has promised to all non-senior civil servants.

The UK government updated its pay remit offer for 2023-24 earlier this month in response to escalating civil service strike action, giving departments flexibility to pay staff a non-consolidated £1,500 cost-of-living payment.

PCS said the British Museum’s refusal to pay the one-off bonus is “deeply insulting” as it announced industrial action will take place on 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 July.

“It’s an outrage that even after the government recognised the need for our members to be given more financial support during the crippling cost of living crisis, the British Museum is refusing to pay it,” PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said.

“Our members’ sacrifices during the national campaign of strike action is what forced the government to recommend the payment and the British Museum’s rebuff is deeply insulting. Our members have made it loud and clear that failing to commit to agreeing to the payment will be swiftly met with further disruption.” 

A spokesperson for PCS told CSW the majority of employers have confirmed they are paying the bonus "but there are a number who haven’t done so yet".

The British Museum has been approached for comment.

All employers covered by the pay remit guidance can pay the sum to any staff below senior civil service level – if they were in post on 31 March 2023 and will still be in on the date of payment – with departments and public bodies responsible for how and whether this is implemented.

As well as the one-off payment, the pay remit for 2023-24 recommends departments give civil servants a 4.5% pay boost in 2023-24, plus an extra 0.5% for those on the lowest wages.

The union has staged strikes over pay and conditions since November, including previous walkouts at the British Museum, which is a non-departmental public body, operating at arm's length from government. Earlier this month, it suspended strikes at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency after the Department for Transport confirmed it will pay a £1,500 cost-of-living payment to its officials. But it warned it would continue strike action until every employer had agreed to pay the £1,500 sum.

Pay for the SCS, as well as some other workers such as prison officers, is set separately, with pay review bodies making recommendations to government after gathering evidence from relevant organisations such as the Cabinet Office and unions. This year, the Cabinet Office has suggested the Senior Salaries Review Body recommend that senior officials get no more than the package for rank-and-file officials but did not mention any non-consolidated bonus in its evidence.

Read the most recent articles written by Tevye Markson - Greening Government Commitments: How is Defra getting on?


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