Cutty Sark

RMG in union talks over rest break payments

Patrick Steel, 05.04.2017
Proposals follow merging of visitor experience, admissions and commerce departments
Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) is in union talks over its proposals to harmonise the terms and conditions for staff following its merger of visitor experience, admissions, and retail departments in October.

One of its proposals, outlined in a letter to staff on 22 March, is to cease the payment of a daily one hour-long rest break while keeping base pay intact. This would see hourly rates increase to a minimum of £8.27 from 1 April, but at 33.75 contracted hours per week rather than 40.

The proposals would see the lowest paid staff earning more than the National Living Wage, which will go up on 1 April to £7.50 per hour for workers aged over 25 and is a statutory requirement, but less than the optional London Living Wage, which is currently £9.75 per hour.

“Gaining agreement to this will provide a breathing space and reserve some funds to continue discussions with you to seek how best we can implement the remaining proposed changes over time to our mutual satisfaction,” the letter states. “The alternative is simply to impose the new terms and conditions with adequate contractual notice and minimal investment, something we wish to avoid.

“We are also very hopeful to achieve the necessary changes by agreement and without recourse to a redundancy programme.”

The changes, which also apply to front of house staff at the Cutty Sark, affect around 200 staff. The merger also saw the general site manager roles for the Ship, the Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum and Queen’s House brought into a single management team with site specific staff being allocated to each.

Andy Bodle, RMG's director of operations and human resources, said: “Each department has differing contracts and these are more complicated by sub-divisions within those teams depending upon the date of joining.

“It is not equitable to continue on this basis and there is an obvious business need to rationalise. We have given an undertaking to achieve this harmonisation without cutting posts.

“Whether or not this proves achievable is dependent on current negotiations with the Prospect union but at present there are no proposals for job losses.

“One of the many proposals on the table is to cease the payment for rest breaks, which is in line with most colleague institutions across the sector and this included maintaining annual salaries at existing levels.

“This would increase hourly rates of pay and prove an immediate benefit to part time staff and those working overtime. This single proposal was not agreed however and so discussions with the union and staff will continue.”

Prospect negotiations officer Caroline Hemmington said: “We are still waiting to see detailed proposals from RMG but the union will not want to see our members disadvantaged, and is in discussion with RMG over these issues.”