RSA prepares for further strikes as pay dispute continues

03 Oct 2023 News

The Royal Society of Arts logo

Staff at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) are planning further strikes this month as pay negotiations with the charity continue.

Employees represented by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) took part in two days of industrial action last month, the first strikes in RSA’s 270-year history.

IWGB has now announced further strikes on 10 and 18 October, as the union seeks a flat pay rise of £2,800 for all staff members.

RSA said it has requested further talks with the union through conciliation service ACAS “so that their concerns can be resolved quickly and amicably”.

Union: ‘Staff will keep striking’

IWGB gained statutory union recognition at RSA in March this year after the charity rejected its voluntary applications.

Since then, it has been trying to negotiate pay increases for its members at RSA and held its first strikes on 19 and 21 September.

IWGB has raised more than £2,000 so far via a crowdfunder to support the striking staff at RSA.

A spokesperson for the union said: “There is more than enough money for the RSA to resolve this dispute tomorrow if they would only treat their own workers with the progressive values they outwardly preach.

“Until they do, staff will keep striking and fighting for a fairer, more regenerative RSA that promotes positive social change not by empty words, but by example.”

The union previously said that 87 of RSA’s around 112 employees were eligible to strike but it did not say how many were taking part in industrial action.

RSA: ‘We urge the union to return to discussions’

RSA ran an operating deficit for five years from 2017-18 to 2021-22 before recording a surplus of £118,000 in the year to March 2023.

Last financial year, RSA’s staff costs increased by 7% to £5.83m, while its highest paid member of staff earned between £180,000 and £190,000.

The charity said it had invested over £2m of reserves to preserve jobs through the Covid-19 pandemic.

An RSA spokesperson said: “We now need to run a balanced operating budget to preserve our financial stability for the long term. 

“Pay increases already made this financial year, including our pay offer, equate to an average salary increase of around 7% for staff in the bargaining unit.

“These pay rises are skewed towards our lower paid people including an increase in our lowest salary paid to £25,500, which is around 34% higher than the national minimum wage. 

“We urge the union to return to discussions facilitated by ACAS as we have requested so that their concerns can be resolved quickly and amicably in the best interests of our charity, our exceptional staff team and our fellows.”

RSA previously said its staff turnover had been 19% since IWGB became recognised at the charity in March this year.

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