‘TAKE US BACK IN-HOUSE!’ – demand British Museum workers

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Yesterday’s protest demanding ex-Carillion staff at the British Museum be brought back in-house
Yesterday’s protest demanding ex-Carillion staff at the British Museum be brought back in-house

BRITISH Museum cleaners, porters and security staff, who used to be employed by collapsed contractor Carillion, are demanding that they are brought back in-house and employed directly by the museum as part of the public services. Over 60 PCS members and supporters rallied outside the museum yesterday lunchtime. PCS British Museum Branch Chairman Martin Meyler told News Line: ‘We’re here because we were outsourced in 2002 to Carillion.

‘On January 15th Carillion went into liquidation. At the moment we’ve heard nothing from the museum. We have written to the director asking him to bring us back in-house after what happened. ‘So the next option was to protest for the staff to keep their terms and conditions and to come back in-house. ‘A lot of staff have been working at the museum for 15-30 years. We want to be looked after by the British Museum. ‘The government is paying us at the moment. Staff don’t feel secure because we are not sure who is in charge of us. If it comes to it we will take strike action.’

The rally was addressed by Clara Paillard, PCS President Culture Group. She then told News Line: ‘We are here today to ask for the experienced staff to come back in-house. ‘Privatisation isn’t working. We’ve seen that in other museums as well – such as the National Gallery, Tate and the Imperial War Museum. ‘Another company went bust at the Imperial War Museum two years ago. At Tate it is full of zero hours contracts. ‘We are conducting a wider campaign against privatisation in the culture sector.’

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary, read out a message of support from Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who apologised for not being at the rally because he’d been called to a Privy Council meeting.

Serwotka told the rally: ‘Right across the arts and gallery sector all workers should be brought back in-house. They are public institutions, they are sustained by the hard work and dedication of mainly low-paid men and women. ‘They should be treated properly, paid properly and have a decent pension.

‘We are launching a political and industrial campaign. Let’s build the unions and do whatever we can to bring the workers back in-house.’