LONDON Oct 19 British cleaners at one of the
world's most popular museums have voted to strike over the
transfer of their jobs to private companies, their unions said
Unions for workers at the British Museum in London said the
date for a walkout had not been decided, but that it would close
down parts of a cultural mecca which draws five million visitors
a year to see such treasures as the Rosetta Stone, ancient Greek
sculptures from the Parthenon, Egyptian mummies and much more.
Around 70 cleaning and maintenance staff could walk out over
concerns that transferring their employment to a private company
would see a cut in pay and conditions for the workers who
maintain a British institution often listed alongside the Louvre
in Paris, Washington's National Air and Space Museum and the
Vatican Museum in Italy as a must-see for any tourist.
"We have a situation where members, who have been working at
the museum for over 30 years, are being sold off like cattle,"
said Carolyn Simpson, regional officer for the Unite trade
union, one of the two unions representing the workers.
A museum spokeswoman said that pay and conditions for
workers would be the same under the new contract.
Roughly half of the museum's facilities are already run by
outsourcing companies such as Mitie, which looks after
some cleaning services, and maintenance contractor Norland.
Both companies have put in bids for the new contract
covering facilities management across the entire museum, and it
should be signed by the end of the year, the spokeswoman said.