The Queen is facing the first industrial revolt by her staff after wardens employed to show tourists around Windsor Castle began casting votes in a strike ballot over pay.
The 40 liveried workers, whose duties involve greeting visitors and conducting tours of the monarch’s imposing Berkshire residence, are threatening to halt unpaid additional work as part of their dispute over complaints that they are poorly paid.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said on Monday night that if its members approved the industrial action it would have a “significant impact” on the services provided to the 1.3 million annual visitors to the castle.
The uniformed wardens complain that the Royal Collection Trust has failed to honour an understanding that it would consider offering payment for the extra “duties”, such as specialist tours of the castle kitchens and interpreting, despite putting up with years of minimal pay rises.
The charitable trust, a part of the Royal Household which manages visits to the Queen’s public palaces, insists that the additional work is voluntary and does not form part of the wardens’ compulsory duties.
If the wardens approve the industrial action, which will fall short of a strike, it is expected to begin at the end of this month. It is believed it would be the first time that industrial action has hit the Royal Household.
In a statement, the Royal Collection Trust said: “Warden staff are offered voluntary opportunities to receive training and develop skills to lead guided tours for visitors as part of their working day and to administer first aid, as well as to use their language skills.
“These are not compulsory aspects of their role, and it is the choice of the individual whether they wish to take part.”
The charity added that it did not expect any industrial action to interrupt the running of its tours.