Privatisation of archaeology service will damage museum


Privatisation of archaeology service will damage museum

Plans by the Museum of London (MOL) to privatise its archaeological service, MOLA and set it up as an independent charity marks a turning-away from archaeology and will damage the reputation of the museum, says Prospect, the union for over 200 specialist MOL staff.

MOL is making 11 staff redundant, including senior curators in Prehistory and Roman History. Conservators and front-of-house staff will also lose their jobs. Plans for a new Roman gallery have been postponed and the award-winning London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC), the repository for London’s archaeological finds, is also under review.

Prospect negotiator Dave Allen said: “Although the redundancies were made on a voluntary basis, the job cuts will damage the museum. We are particularly concerned that the cuts, together with the planned privatisation of the archaeology service, marks a turning-away by MOL from archaeology and London’s early history. This is a mistake, since MOL was founded to take care of extensive archaeological collections from the London and Guildhall Museums and archaeology is hugely popular with museum visitors.

“MOLA contributes to the academic standing of the museum – 80 per cent of the publications detailed in the most recent MOL annual report derive from MOLA or archaeology. In a time of funding cuts, MOLA has the potential to earn hundreds of thousands of pounds for the museum. We share the concerns of academics who have spoken out against the changes.”

MOL staff have lobbied the museum’s board of governors about the privatisation and job cuts, but were threatened with suspension and gross misconduct charges by managers when they planned to ask visitors to sign a petition against the changes.

“We are calling for a halt to this privatisation. So far the public has been excluded from the debate about this major change in direction for the museum. The debate must be open to everyone who cares about the future of this important museum,” said Allen.

Prospect is urging Londoners and others to contact their Greater London Authority representative to protest about the privatisation and to write the chairman of the museum board of governors, Michael Cassidy.