Prospect’s 250 members at the museum were balloted solely on the option of a one-day strike with 83% of the vote opting in favour of action over the offer of 2.5% which they have described as derisory and reneging on previous pay promises.
Staff in the Science Museum, London, the National Museum of Photography Film and Television, Bradford and the National Railway Museum, York - which collectively make up the National Museum of Science and Industry - will take part in the protest.
Prospect negotiator Emily Boase said: "Science Museum staff do not expect to be paid above the market rate and understand that the museum is a public service subject to Treasury constraints.
"Previous below-par pay settlements were agreed on the basis that there would be ‘jam tomorrow.’ But not only does this award amount to a pay cut for our members, the museum is now saying that it has insufficient funds to implement agreed improvements to the pay and grading structure. These changes have already been paid for by job losses and restructuring."
While the dispute concerns an unacceptable pay offer, it comes against the background of a funding crisis in NMSI. A poor trading performance, and the fact that government funding has not covered the loss of income since the introduction of free admission, has resulted in the museum having to close galleries and cut core activities. The library is under threat of closure resulting in the compulsory redundancy of up to 14 world-renowned specialists.
Boase said: "I hope today’s vote sends a clear message to the government that it can no longer continue to rely on the goodwill of staff to keep the museum going, rather than provide adequate resources."
The one-day strike will take place during the week beginning February 14, when many schools will be on half-term, although the exact date of the action will be announced next week. Members of the PCS union have also voted to take part in the day of action. Prospect represents curators, conservators, technical staff and managers at the museum while PCS represents warders, managers, security and administrative staff.