Staff at Kensington Palace are threatening to strike after rejecting plans forcing them to accept a £3,000 pay cut.
According to reports in the Sunday Times, uniformed wardens working at the London home of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been asked to reduce their working hours, a proposal that would severely cut their annual earnings.
The staff are employed in the publicly-accessible parts of the palace, and help bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors and revenue each year by working in the ticket office, directing and assisting visitors and protecting the Palace’s numerous exhibits.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), one of the UK’s largest trade unions, is set to hold talks to try and agree on a deal on Monday but, according to the Sunday Times, a source close to the negotiations said a ballot to strike was likely to follow.
Last year, a similar dispute at Windsor Castle saw staff threaten to walk out over low pay and allowances and concerns they were being asked to take on extra duties for no additional pay.
Kensington Palace is managed by Historic Royal Palaces, an independent charity that also looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. All the palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, but are managed independently.
In response to the matter, the charity said: “The changes to working hours affect a small number of colleagues in the front-of-house team at Kensington Palace. We have given a year’s notice of the planned changes and are currently in discussions with the PCS union,” adding: “We value our staff very highly and hope to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.”
Kensington Palace has seen a number of improvements and refurbishments over recent years including the addition of the new ‘Hub’ entrance space in 2012 that brought a number of modern visitor facilities to the Palace. The £12million refurbishment, which saw Mario Testino portraits of Prince William and Catherine added to the collection of impressive paintings, was closely followed by extensive works on the Palace’s private apartments. £4.5million was spent improving the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Apartment 1A in 2014.