For the first time in history, the Queen of England’s household staff may take industrial action.
The Guardian reports that they are frustrated by paltry wages, and will cast ballots Tuesday to determine if they will continue with certain services they currently perform without pay around her weekend home at Windsor Castle — such as taking visitors on tours, interpreting and offering first aid.
The U.K.’s Public and Commercial Services union says more than 100 disgruntled staff members may rescind these free services, citing chronic underpayment.
The starting salary for household staff at Windsor Castle is reportedly as little as $20,000.
“It is a failure of leadership on the part of the Queen that despite receiving close to £300 million [$443,658,000] a year in public subsidy she continues to pay staff so badly,” antimonarchist campaigner Graham Smith told the Guardian.
However, the Royal Collection Trust, which administers the Queen’s homes, says the uncompensated tasks are not compulsory and only performed voluntarily. It further argues that employees are paid above the market rate and receive a generous pension.
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