New pay offer sees strike at British Museum called off

Image: The roof of the British Museum

The PCS Union had planned a six-day strike, but called the recent offer, which includes a cost-of-living payment, a “significant step forward”

The latest in a series of strikes by British Museum workers, which was set to begin for six days from tomorrow, has been called off.

British Museum workers who are members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) were set to begin the six-day strike on 11th July 2023, with as many as 150 members of the British Museum’s visitor services and security teams set to take part.

The strike was planned after the union claimed British Museum workers were not in line to receive a one-off cost of living payment of £1,500. The payment was recommended by the government for civil servants, following discussions between the Cabinet Office and unions over pay.

The PCS union claims many of the London museum’s front of house staff are currently receiving wages “well below” the London Living Wage of £11.95, and that over half of its members have had to use a foodbank in the last 12 months.

The PCS union now reports that following discussions, the museum has presented it with an offer that “addresses the most pressing concerns of its members”.

The new offer includes a cost-of-living payment exceeding £1,500 for most members and a confirmation that all staff will receive at least the London Living Wage, and a percentage increase for all other staff beyond the civil service pay remit guidance. The union said the new agreement amounts to around a 14% increase for the lowest-paid.

The Museum had last week warned visitors that the strike would mean visitor entry would only be available to Members and pre-booked ticket holders. The warning has since been removed.

The union’s actions have previously forced the museum’s closure. In February, a strike as part of nationwide industrial action saw the museum close its doors at short notice.

The union called the offer a “significant step forward”, and said it had continued to press for further improvements until Friday afternoon and held emergency meetings with its members over the weekend and into this morning (10 July).

Mary Doolin, PCS full-time officer, said: “The decision to suspend the strike demonstrates PCS’ willingness to engage in dialogue when reasonable offers are made by employers.

“I applaud the dedication and perseverance of the representatives and members at the British Museum branch, who fought tirelessly for this outcome through weeks of strike action and two successful ballots.”

A British Museum spokesperson said: “We’re extremely pleased that the museum will be open to our visitors as normal, and we will continue to work closely with representatives from the trade unions on the details of our pay review for the current year.”