The Queen Of England Has An Unprecedented Union Problem
In response to low pay, staff at one of Queen Elizabeth’s many castles began voting Tuesday on whether to strike, marking the first such dispute in English history.
At the center of the dispute is the amount of “extra” work informally required of staff at Windsor Castle. Though they do not get paid for the extra duties like giving tours, they are expected to do it out of “goodwill”, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union detailed. The Royal Collection Trust (RCT), which employs the staff, disputed the claims, reminding the staff they are provided lunch and other such benefits in return for their services.
Staff will be voting from Mar. 31 all the way to Tuesday April 14 on whether to strike.
“It would be the first such action specific to the Royal Households and comes after years of pay restraint has left loyal workers paid below the widely-recognised living wage, with new recruits starting on as little as £14,400 a year,” the PCS noted in a press release.
“Despite this, staff are expected to carry out extra unpaid duties, including giving tours of the castle – even though visitors are charged for these – and acting as language interpreters and first aiders,” the press release continued.
PCS, which represents 120 of the 200 staff at Windsor, note there are a number of paths it can take with or without striking. This includes, withdrawing of the goodwill services as well as stopping other such activities provided to visitors.
“An unsatisfactory pay offer for 2014 was only narrowly accepted by staff on the understanding that the additional allowances would be considered this year,” the press release went onto say. “But senior officials in the Royal Households have again refused to reward staff for their goodwill and pay allowances for additional duties.”
A spokeswoman for the RCT denied the claims the staff is underpaid, according to Reuters. She argued staff could earn benefits such as a performance-related increase and a 15 percent non-contributory pension and a free lunch.
“Warden staff are offered voluntary opportunities to receive training and develop skills to lead guided tours for visitors as part of their working day and to administer first aid, as well as to use their language skills,” the spokeswoman told the BBC.
“These are not compulsory aspects of their role, and it is the choice of the individual whether they wish to take part,” she added.
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