As of January 2016 the V&A Museum will stop employing new museum staff directly. All new staff (from Gallery Assistants to Curators) will now be employed through the museum’s own trading company V&A Enterprises Ltd.
This ‘in-house’ backdoor privatisation is presented by the museum as a cost saving exercise and a consequence of declining budgets. Their savings will in effect be made by removing access for new staff to the Civil Service Pensions and Compensation Schemes as well as employing new starters on reduced terms & conditions (maternity & sick pay are especially affected), and preventing new staff’s access to union recognition and collective bargaining. The trade unions currently recognised by the V&A are: PCS, Prospect, & FDA. PCS created this petition.
Although the museum has committed to ‘review’ future union recognition in the Enterprises company; so far management have consistently refused to enter into negotiations with the unions over this matter, arguing that only new employees would be affected, not existing members of staff. However, this decision can only lead to a two-tier workforce, exacerbating inequalities between V&A staff and before long undermining the rights of the current workforce.