Staff at National Museums Scotland are currently holding a seven-day strike in a dispute over weekend pay arrangements.
Weekend working allowances have not formed part of the contracts for new staff members since 2011.
Employees that are members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) want the weekend pay allowance, which can amount to £2,000-£3,000 a year, to be reintroduced for all visitor operation staff that work weekend shifts.
The strike will last for seven days from Monday 24 to Sunday 30 August. Around 120 members are involved at the main site in Chambers Street and also the National War Museum.
PCS members have been taking discontinuous strike action since December 2013. Until now, the action has involved one or two days of strike action or lunchtime walkouts over a five-day period.
A meeting between the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), the National Museums’ management and PCS was scheduled for Friday 21 August but no resolution was agreed upon and the industrial action went ahead.
Lynn Henderson, Scottish secretary, the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: “Our members are determined to win this dispute. It is heartening to note that the support is as strong with members who get the allowance as with those who don’t.”
A spokeswoman for National Museums Scotland said: “National Museums Scotland has had an ongoing dialogue with PCS and has made a number of proposals with a view to resolving this dispute, all of which have been rejected without being put to their members. However, we remain committed to the process of dialogue and have proposed that further discussions take place.
“PCS is demanding the introduction of weekend payments for staff who work weekends. Weekend payments are no longer common in the culture and tourism sector across the UK, including Historic Scotland, Visit Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland. In 2011, in response to the financial crisis, we introduced revised contracts for new staff which do not include weekend working allowances. To introduce weekend payments for staff who have been employed since 2011 would cost an additional £400,000 per year. In the current public sector funding climate this is unaffordable.
“No member of staff has received a pay cut following the introduction of new contracts in January 2011. Existing terms and conditions have been preserved for all staff employed prior to this date.”