Staff members at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), represented by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), have voted to go on strike for the first time in the charity’s 270 year history.
With a 78.95% turnout and 93.33% vote in favour of striking, staff have given notice of strike action for Tuesday 19th and Thursday 21st of September, which will see the RSA host its president, Anne, Princess Royal, for its Design For Life awards ceremony, celebrating 100 years of the RSA Student Design Awards.
Daniel*, a staff member at the RSA:
“This result confirms what we already knew – that a majority of staff are united in our disappointment with management’s paltry pay offer and their cynical approach to negotiations. Management’s failure to engage with the collective voice of the workforce maturely has led us to this point.”
Staff are demanding a below-inflation flat pay rise of £2,800 for all staff members, whilst the RSA have refused to move from their initial offer of £1,000 for all staff, averaging at a 2.5% increase across the board.
Whilst most junior staff members’ pay has fallen below the level of inflation, money spent on the RSA’s leadership team jumped 170% this year from £359,000 to £976,000
The RSA, which has counted Karl Marx, Nelson Mandela and Stephen Hawking amongst its fellows, is facing strike action after failing to address the real terms pay cuts and refusing to negotiate with the IWGB over pay.
The strike will be the latest in a series of third sector strikes to hit high profile charities this year, including an indefinite strike that recently concluded at the homeless charity St Mungo’s.
Despite citing insufficient funds to award staff members their proposed pay rise, the RSA did agree to spend £976,000 on remuneration for its leadership team in 2022-2023, 170% more than the previous year, as reported in the RSA’s latest impact report.
Alex Marshall, President of the IWGB:
“Throughout the union recognition process and now pay negotiations, Andy Haldane and his team have cynically attempted to undermine democracy, sew division & impose a meagre raise during a cost of living crisis. Meanwhile, senior management enjoys bumper salaries and sits on reserves of £32 million. The ballot result reflects workers’ resolve to win the pay rise they deserve, and they will not give up until they have won it.”
*Name changed to preserve anonymity