Friday 21 December 2018 2:27 pm

Beefeaters strike at London landmarks over pension dispute

Kim Darrah is a guest contributor for City A.M.

Kim Darrah is a guest contributor for City A.M.

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Staff from Hampton Court palace, Kensington Palace and the Tower of London today staged a walk-out over changes to their pension scheme.

Workers formed picket lines at the famous tourist sites in the first of a series of strikes organised by the GMB Union and Public and Commercial Services union (PCS). 

The strikes follow an announcement by Historical Royal Palaces, the charity that manages the sites, that it plans to move 120 staff to a different pension model. 

PCS said the change will result in members receiving “in some cases massively less pension than they had been promised”. The union said that 50 people would strike and it had been scheduled to last for three hours.

Mark Serwotka, PCS's general secretary, said: “The unwarranted attack on our members’ pensions has forced them to vote for strike action. Our members are not paid a king’s ransom and the pension is one of the things that encourages people to stay in the job and deliver a first class service to the public.”

A total of 91.4 per cent of PCS members voted in favour of the strike on a 72 per cent turnout. Strikers included staff from a range of jobs at the royal sites, including Beefeaters as well as those in admin and other roles.

One striker told City A.M.: “All of us have worked at here for over fifteen years. We feel like our loyalty is being tested because they promised is something but are now changing their minds. We have had lots of other members of staff come over to voice their support and wish us luck.”

Two further strikes have been planned with the final one taking place next year.

John Barnes, Chief Executive, Historic Royal Palaces, said: "Although we fully respect the rights of Trade Union members to take industrial action, the announcement is disappointing. However, it will not change our decision to close the Defined Benefit scheme.”

Historic Royal Palaces also looks after several other London tourist attractions the Banqueting House, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle.