London: For the first time in history, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II faces the prospect of her staff declaring a strike over low pay.
Workers at her Windsor Castle residence in Berkshire county of England will vote on industrial action over what they describe as “appallingly” low salary and allowances.
Castle staff start on an estimated 14,400 pounds per year, which is less than the UK living wage.
They are also expected to carry out extra duties for no extra pay, such as giving guided tours to paying visitors and acting as interpreters and first-aiders.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents 120 of the 200 staff at Windsor, says the Royal household has broken promises over giving the staff extra allowances for carrying out the extra duties.
The union will ballot its members between March 31 and April 14, with industrial action planned from the end of April.
“These workers are loyal to their employer and absolutely committed to ensuring visitors are given the royal treatment. It is scandalous that staff are so appallingly paid and expected to do work for free that brings in money for the royal family,” said Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS.
If the staff vote to take action, they will work to follow strict rules and refuse to carry out extra unpaid duties, which the union says would have a “significant impact on the services provided to visitors”.
Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, attracts 1.1 million visitors each year, who between them spend more than 17 million pounds, which is used by the Royal Collection Trust charity for the upkeep of the royal palaces and their contents.
It is the Queen's preferred weekend getaway from Buckingham Palace in London and the venue for official state visits by leading heads of state and government.
The royal household is yet to comment on the impending ballot for industrial action.