LONDON: For the first time in modern times, Queen Elizabeth is facing a rebellion – from the workers at her favourite castle – Windsor.
Staff at Windsor Castle have voted to take industrial action in a row over appalling low pay making it the first time ever that the Queen has faced such an uprising.
Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world and attracts 1.1 million visitors each year.
In a ballot of 76 of the wardens at Windsor Castle, 84%voted for action on a turnout of 82%.
Starting on as little as £14,400, in the last few years they have been asked to carry out extra duties for no additional pay, at the same time as suffering Treasury-imposed pay cuts.
This includes giving tours of the castle that visitors pay extra for.
The union said “Non-strike industrial action, including withdrawal of this goodwill, could start from the end of April”.
The wardens, employed by a charitable arm of the Royal Households called the Royal Collection Trust, work at the castle entrance, around the grounds and inside the palace, helping visitors and protecting artworks. They only narrowly accepted an unsatisfactory pay offer last year on the understanding that additional allowances for paid-for tours and other skills would be considered this year.
General Secretary of the union Mark Serwotka described them as loyal workers who are the “public face of Windsor Castle”.
“With this vote their message to their employer is loud and clear. Staff should be properly rewarded for their commitment to ensuring visitors from around the world can fully enjoy their time at the castle,” he added.
The Royal Collection Trust reacted, saying in a statement “Following the union ballot, we have been informed that some PCS-affiliated wardens at Windsor Castle will no longer participate in various activities undertaken during their working day, including using their language and first-aid skills, and conducting tours of specific areas of the Castle during August and September. These activities have never been compulsory; it has always been the choice of the individual as to whether they take part. While the outcome of the ballot is disappointing, it will have no effect on services to visitors to the Castle”.