Beefeaters could strike for first time in 55 years amid pension row

#OTD 1963: The Beefeaters were on strike. Does anybody know why they are called the Beefeaters? pic.twitter.com/b9TZhUG1PZ— BBC Archive (@BBCArchive) August 2, 2017 The last time they went on strike it was in an attempt to negotiate an extra 25 shillings a week – around £3 in today’s money.But now, Beefeaters from the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace could vote to strike for the first time in 55 years in a row over pensions.Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) employees, including Jewel House Wardens and other workers, who have been affected by the closure of their pension will be balloted on strike action from Friday, November 30, which could result in a walkout. Unions claim changes will mean members’ final salary pensions will be replaced by an inferior plan. Mick Ainsley, GMB regional officer said: “Pensions really matter to our members and in the day-to-day contacts we have with them across HRP, the importance to them of continuing to be able to build the pension they were promised when they were transferred to HRP from the civil service is emphasised to us over and over again.”They see their defined benefit pension entitlement as a critical element of the employment package, and quite rightly put a great value on it.”HRP’s decision to close the scheme came as a great surprise. Difficulties or the ability to afford the pension had never been muted before and members just see this attack on their standard of living for the rest of their lives. “We need to act in the best interests of the charity and of the majority of our staff, who will all benefit from a 2 per cent increase in employer contributions to their pensions from April 2019 as part of the changes.”This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we have consulted extensively with the staff affected over the course of the past year, as a result of which they will be receiving compensation and transition arrangements among the best in the market.”They will be joining the same competitive Defined Contribution scheme as their colleagues. The Trade Unions will shortly ballot their members and we will await the outcome of this.” John Barnes, Chief Executive, Historic Royal Palaces said: “In April 2019, we will be closing our Defined Benefit Pension scheme, affecting 11 per cent of our staff.  The scheme has become financially unsustainable, and the rising costs pose too great a risk for Historic Royal Palaces. “HRP are just jumping on the band wagon as they see other companies ending good defined benefit schemes, preferring instead to let the tax payer pick up the shortfall in the years to come.”GMB members have made it very clear that they want more negotiations and are prepared to talk. Strike action is the last thing they want to do, but HRP have left them with nowhere else to go. “Currently, Government responsibility rests with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport but all the palaces in HRP care are owned by The Queen ‘in Right of Crown’. This means that the Queen holds the palaces in Trust for the next monarch and by law cannot sell, lease or otherwise dispose of any interest in the palaces.”The notion that buildings are more important than the dignity of workers and that the people caring for and responsible for these palaces are not worthy of being cared for in their retirement is quite frankly disgusting.”This is a pay cut for the rest of their lives.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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