Funding is only going to get cut, so labour problems are only going to grow. In parallel, due to geographical inequity in cultural funding and the economy, the cultural as well as economic north-south divide (or south-east-elsewhere chasm) is only going to grow. Here’s the first of four examples in a run-down (or perhaps grind-down) of the latest bad news for the cultural heritage industry in the UK.
News that isn’t news
Or: news that wasn’t news even before it was announced
As media have reported, First World War commemorations may be harmed by the Imperial War Museums’ outsourcing of their visitor services. As they could have reported, the Imperial War Museums’ visitor services may be harmed by the Imperial War Museums’ outsourcing of their visitor services (which will happen on April Fool’s Day). The IWMs’ contractor, Shield, has a track record of employing workers on zero-hour contracts.
The IWMs are focused on ‘effectiveness, efficiencies and also opportunities for staff development offered by our current in-house structures, examining the methods we currently use and those available in the marketplace’. So that’s using volunteers to do unskilled labour, making staff redundant, and burdening the survivors with their fallen comrades’ responsibilities (which they then offload onto volunteers), right?
Still, since it claimed its employees’ ‘employment terms and conditions were protected‘, Thickstp suggested that it might mean,
1) Reduce staff numbers
2) Swap out staff paid under current terms and conditions and swap in less well paid staff
3) Over time the outsourcer will also offer new and less favourable contracts to the remaining transferred staff so that they either leave or become very unhappy.