Union furious at museum blog job while staff face the axe

4:20pm Friday 4th January 2013

By Neil Vowles

UNION bosses have slammed the creation of a “non-job” at a museum at the same time that security staff are facing pay cuts and redundancy.

Brighton and Hove’s Royal Pavilion and Museums are advertising for a resident blogger to give a “voice to the untold stories” behind the scenes at the city’s museums.

The lucky applicant will earn £4,500 for six months’ work.

The newly-advertised post has angered union officials as it comes while the council’s museums look to make savings of up to £96,000 to meet a reduction in their budget.

Management proposals to reduce the pay of up to 20 staff and make three employees redundant were supported by the council’s personnel sub-committee prior to Christmas at a dispute hearing.

Mark Turner, from the GMB, described the council’s plans for staff to voluntarily terminate their existing contracts and accept lower terms in February as “unprecedented”.

If staff do not take up the offer, they could have new terms imposed upon them in May.

Mr Turner said his members were “not ruling any-thing out” in response to the proposals.

The post is an external post being paid for by the Arts Council England which announced in October last year it was cutting its staffing numbers by 20% with its budget set to be slashed by £100 million over the next three years.

The body’s Brighton offices in Church Street are under threat as part of the cutbacks.

The advert for the post hopes that applicants will be able to bring a “different perspective” and a “fresh outlook” to the work carried out at the museums.

It is hoped that the blog will attract more visitors to the city’s historical and art attractions as well as stimulating “online conversation”.

Mr Turner said: “Our members won’t distinguish between Art Council money and council money, they will see someone blogging away all day for six months for more than £4,000 while they are having their pay cut.

“They should be finding funding streams to protect the vital frontline jobs of protecting the city’s crown jewels and not a blogger.”

The advert states: “It is envisaged that the chosen blogger in residence will spend time in the different departments of the Royal Pavilion and Museums, shadowing staff, attending meetings and giving a voice to the untold stories from ‘behind the scenes’ that will fascinate audiences, and help to open up and de-mystify the work that is done here.”

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said: “It is externally funded through Arts Council England.”

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