Culture workers’ strikes start with focus on Propaganda

A series of strikes in the culture and heritage sector opens with walkouts by British Library workers on Thursday (16) and Friday (17), the Public and Commercial Services union announces.

The strikes have been timed to coincide with the launch of the world-famous library's new 'Propaganda: Power and Persuasion' exhibition and forms part of the union's three-month civil service-wide campaign against imposed government cuts to pay, pensions, jobs and working conditions.

The stoppages involve more than 300 workers at the British Library's main site in central London on Thursday (16) and almost 200 at its reading rooms in Boston Spa in Yorkshire on Friday (17). They kick off a series of strikes and protests across the culture sector in England and Wales, with other locations and dates to be announced.

Staff at the library and other cultural organisations are particularly concerned about low wages and the need for a living wage to reflect the true cost of living, as well as having fears over job cuts and privatisation.

The union's three-month campaign has already included national walkouts on budget day on 20 March and a long weekend of action from 5 to 8 April, as well as individual strikes by Home Office workers, last week staff in non-departmental public bodies and today (15) members in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its agencies.

Yesterday (14) the union's members in the culture sector in Scotland were on strike as part of three days of action being taken by workers in Scottish government departments and agencies and the Scottish parliament.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "While the cost of living soars, ministers are refusing to even talk to us about improving pay but workers across our civil and public services are refusing to roll over and accept this.

"Like many of our other cultural attractions the British Library is known and loved around the world, but its workers are being treated with contempt by this Tory-led government."




– The union's annual conference, in Brighton from Tuesday 21 to Thursday 23 May, will be dominated by the ongoing campaign against the government's cuts to pay, pensions, jobs and conditions. For media accreditation and information contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 07833 978216 or

– PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and represents civil and public servants in central government and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. Mark Serwotka is the general secretary and the president is Janice Godrich – on Twitter @janicegodrich

– Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union