Palace Gardeners’ strike action

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Angry GMB and PCS members working for Historic Royal Palaces on the picket line outside Hampton Court Palace yesterday lunchtime
Angry GMB and PCS members working for Historic Royal Palaces on the picket line outside Hampton Court Palace yesterday lunchtime

ANGRY GMB and PCS members working for Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) were on picket lines outside Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London yesterday fighting against a massive pensions rip-off, with HRP planning to close the existing pension scheme at the end of March.

Kat Foulkes, PCS officer, said: ‘This is a joint action between GMB and PCS with 120 staff affected. ‘Today is the first day of a second round of action, with two more strike days on 16th and 21st February.’

Hampton Court Palace gardener and GMB rep Perry Russell said: ‘They’re taking our pensions. I’ve worked here for 40 years in the gardens. Being a long-serving member, I won’t be losing out as much as the younger ones, who will be losing a considerable amount.

‘They are planning to replace our defined benefit pension scheme with a defined contribution scheme from the end of March. ‘When we were transferred from the civil service into an agency back in the 90s we were promised that our pensions would remain in force for the duration. ‘Now they are breaking that promise. We can’t allow it. We are not just fighting for ourselves, but for the workers of the future.’

Fellow gardener Stephen Warren said: ‘I’m in my 22nd year and I’m angry. I’ve still got another eight or nine years to go and to maintain my pension level I would have to pay an extra £200 a month each month until I retire. I can’t afford that. ‘So the outcome will be a lot less pension when I retire or keep working until I drop. Management treated us with contempt. They sent us a letter saying all this two weeks before Xmas. I think we need to escalate the action.’