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Royal Society of Arts boycotted by internationally renowned speakers amid staff pay dispute

INTERNATIONALLY renowned speakers are pulling out of engagements with the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in support of a boycott called by staff in a pay dispute.

Members of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) employed by the RSA launched a boycott of the institution today.

In addition to the pay dispute, staff have accused the RSA of changing its values, including its treatment of staff.

In December last year, IWGB staff at the RSA took part in the first strike in the organisation’s 270-year history.

Staff want a flat pay rise of £2,800 for all workers, but the RSA has proposed a £1,000 increase, equivalent to 2.5 per cent.

Amanda Ibbett, an IWGB member who has worked at the RSA for 10 years, said she had seen “so many staff broken” while working at the RSA.

“The RSA’s leadership lives none of its values, with ‘openness, optimism, rigour, enabling its staff and societal change, and rewarding courage’ all now empty words,” she said.

Supporting the action, Green Party deputy leader Zack Polanski said: “I joined striking RSA workers on their first picket line back in December, and wholeheartedly support their campaign.

“It’s time for management to intervene to put this period behind us, meet the union’s demands, and begin a new, more positive chapter for the RSA.”

The boycott has won the backing of University and College Union London region, branches of the Civil Service union PCS, performing arts union Equity and politicians including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

IWGB said speakers Yanis Varoufakis, Chris Packham and Deborah Frances-White have cancelled engagements at the RSA.

A RSA spokesperson said they were disappointed with the speakers pulling out from events, adding that the body has worked with the IWGB to find “constructive resolutions,” which have been rejected by the union.

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