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Three of London’s top tourist attractions were picketed today as dozens of the city’s iconic Beefeaters went on strike over pension cuts.
The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London ceased guarding the Crown Jewels and walked out for their first strike in more than half a century.
— Phil Miller (@pmillerinfo) December 21, 2018
A striking Beefeater told the Star that “it was quite daunting to go on strike for the first time, especially at such an iconic site with the Crown Jewels.”
Speaking anonymously for fear of reprisals from bosses, they said: “It was a big step for us to take, especially as most haven’t been politically active before. The management have tried to divide us, but it hasn’t worked. It’s brilliant to see how many members have turned out.”
There were also several hours of strike action further up the River Thames, at Hampton Court, and even at Kensington Palace where Princes William and Harry reside.
Since privatisation in the 1990s staff at these sites have been employed by an independent charity, the Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), which now plans to cut the pensions of over 100 staff.
The charity is planning to close a defined benefits pension scheme to future accruals. Trade unions say this will affect 120 members of the scheme, who would be moved to a less generous defined contribution model.
“This will result in our members receiving in some cases massively less than they had been promised,” the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union warned.
Over 90 per cent of PCS members in the ballot voted for strike action, with 72 per cent of members casting a vote, the union said.
Appeals to charity CEO John Barnes for further negotiations had been “flat out refused,” the union said. Mr Barnes was eligible for a £166,080 salary package last year, according to the charity’s latest accounts.
Mr Barnes commented that, “Although we fully respect the rights of trade union members to take industrial action, today’s strike is disappointing. However, it will not change our decision to close the Defined Benefit scheme.”
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