The Queen's staff go on strike: Outraged over "inferior" pension payments
Some of the Queen’s staff have gone on a strike over a pension dispute.
Staff who work for Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), a charity managed on behalf of the Queen, gathered to picket outside the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace on Tuesday, in a row over their pensions package.
The GMB union’s regional organiser Michael Ainsley said workers are furious after HRP commissioned expensive cakes for a royal campaign while pensions for the staff are getting replaced by an “inferior” model.
Discussions between the union and the charity reached a stalemate as the GMB said HRP’s offer for the affected 120 employees was “not good enough”.
However, the row continued following HRP’s cake campaign.
“Our members’ disappointment turned to fury however when they were made aware that HRP had commissioned several elaborate and very expensive cakes from Choccywoccydoodah, to launch a new campaign,” said Ainsley.
“The crass insensitivity shown by HRP in squandering money in this way while telling employees that their pensions are unsustainable is incredible. Perhaps HRP consider it better to ‘let them eat cake’ in their retirement instead of them being able to buy groceries or pay rent and utilities bills.”
Staff voted to support strike action, with 91 per cent in favour after a turnout of 88 per cent.
HRP’s chief executive John Barnes said the Tuesday strike would not impact the running of the sites.
“The strike follows a negotiation with the trade unions in January, where we improved upon our already generous offer to scheme members,” said Barnes.
“We have already offered substantial compensation and transition arrangements to the 11 per cent of our staff who are affected.
“We believe our last offer to be a generous one, and while we respect the rights of trade union members to take industrial action, we will not be changing our decision to close the Defined Benefit scheme.”
The pension scheme, which includes an employer’s contribution of 33 per cent, is set to be closed and replaced by April.
“[The scheme] is financially unsustainable, and closing it will enable us to increase employer contributions to pensions for everyone by two per cent – an offer that is fundamentally fairer to our entire workforce,” said Barnes.
Three more strike actions have been planned for February 6, 16 and 21.
“GMB remains committed to achieving a negotiated settlement but HRP need to get real with what they’re offering our members,” said Ainsley.