GMB oppose Brighton and Hove Council’s proposed transfer of staff to Brighton Dome & Festival Ltd

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GMB members and staff have collectively condemned Brighton and Hove Council’s proposed transfer of staff to Brighton Dome & Festival Ltd, gifting control of some of the city’s most famous cultural sites and collections, including the Royal Pavillion’s, Brighton’s, Hove’s, Preston Manor and Booth Museum’s collection of art and history, into the private sector.

GMB will undertake a consultative ballot of members if, on Thursday 25 January, the Policy, Resource and Growth Committee endorses the recommendation by officers to unilaterally award the contract to the Dome and Festival Ltd as part of their one step approach as opposed to the original two-step process. This will commence a process aimed at seeking support for direct industrial action by concerned members of staff against their current employer Brighton and Hove City Council to reverse the decision.

This decision by Brighton and Hove Council would potentially see museum services diminished and jobs put at risk and/or pay cuts along with creation of a two tier workforce pay structure with Brighton Dome & Festival Ltd with their being a non-signatory to the Brighton or real Living Wage pay structures.

Mark Turner GMB B50 Branch Secretary says: “The original proposal by the council in January 2017 saw them approve the establishment of a charitable trust for arts and culture in Brighton & Hove into which the Royal Pavilion & Museums would move in April 2018, with the transfer to Brighton Dome and Festival Ltd only being described as a possible roadmap as future step or merger of the two trusts to establish a single ‘cultural trust’ for the city within four years of the charitable trust being established.

“This left staff expecting to have a discussion on the details and timescales of both stages of the proposal, but with the council having now without warning or meaningful consultation unilaterally changed direction and instead are looking to simply transfer staff and management services straight to the Brighton Dome.

“This is being seen as a more accurate reflection of the councils wish to simply rid themselves of any connection to what is considered by many as the heart of the city’s cultural quarter has angered staff to simply believe and state that they, now wouldn’t trust the council or anything their officers say and that everything should be off the table with the status quo remaining as is.

“Having recently met or heard from the majority of the dedicated Royal Pavilion & Museums GMB members and staff, I’m left in no doubt that they are both angry and appalled by the way they have been treated by senior management and the council’s executive management team.

“The lack of engagement and consultation with them and us as a union on this sudden change of direction by now proceeding with a one-step approach, unilaterally giving the Dome and Festival Ltd the contract without open competition is a breach of procurement rules and European directive.

“They feel excluded from having any real input into the future of the Royal Pavilion & Museums, and the impending consequences of transferring out the public sector and how it impacts upon the level of support and services they will be able to provide visitors at Brighton’s museums into the future.

“The Dome will only be interested in looking to create a more direct profitability approach to maintaining services at Brighton’s heritage and culture centres for the city and its visitors, and to do so that normally means changes to the most valuable resource within any organisation, its staff.

“As always during this type of outsourcing or privatisation of services, staff will almost certainly at some time face the threat of possible job cuts, detrimental changes to pay, terms and conditions, by an employer who disgracefully refuses to even sign up to the Brighton or real living wage pay rates.

“The GMB ballot will open if on Thursday 25 January, Policy, Resource and Growth Committee endorses the officer’s recommendation and should the result support doing so, we will then contact the Electoral Reform Service to carry out a ballot for Industrial action, which could see Royal Pavilion and all of Brighton’s Museums closed sometime in early spring and summer as staff look to walk out to protect Brighton’s past for the future.

“GMB calls upon Councillor Warren Morgan and the Labour minority administration to withdraw the item on Policy, Resource and Growth committee agenda this Thursday to allow for meaningful negotiations with us and the workforce to resolve this impasse for the interest of staff and the city.”

Contact: Mark Turner 01273 777027 or 07860 787973 or GMB Press Office 07970 114 762