Employment and business

Ten day strike at National Gallery over privatisation

The National Gallery

The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Image: Manolo Blanco. Under creative commons license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ (image has been resized)

National Gallery staff are due to go on trike for 10 days from Tuesday in the escalation of a long-running dispute over privatisation.

The action by members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) may cause disruption to visitors to the famous museum and gallery in Trafalgar square during the state school half-term holiday.

There have been 24 days of strikes since February over plans to privatise services but this will be the longest period of action so far.

PCS members demonstrating outside the National Gallery in long running dispute over privatisation. Image: PCS

PCS members demonstrating outside the National Gallery in long running dispute over privatisation. Image: PCS

The dispute became bitter when union rep Candy Udwin was suspended before the first strike and sacked afterwards.

Her case has been taken up by Labour MP John McDonnell who intends to raise the issues in the House of Commons.

The National Gallery says it will try to keep open as much of the gallery as it can though there will be some room closures between 26th May and 4th June.

However, the industrial action has and will continue to adversely affect school-trips.

The National Gallery says:

As a result of the PCS position, we are now appointing an external partner to manage these services. Affected staff will transfer across – there will be no job cuts and terms and conditions will be protected.

…our ongoing Modernisation Programme is designed to encourage a broader (and younger) audience to access the wealth of cultural inspiration the National Gallery has to offer. In particular, we have ambitious plans to extend further our education programme and public events.

Director Dr Nicholas Penny said:

I am delighted to announce that all National Gallery staff will be paid the London Living Wage from 1 July 2015.

It has long been my personal ambition to deliver upon the commitment I made to staff, and therefore I am very pleased to be able to announce this.

Union members and their supporters have given notice of a rally in Trafalgar Square on 30th May.

[tweet https://twitter.com/pcs_union/status/601655584014934018]

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

This privatisation plan is totally unnecessary and is damaging the well-earned reputation of the gallery and the sacking of our representative, Candy, is a disgraceful attack on our union.

Our demonstration is not just about this sell-off and the victimisation of Candy, it is an opportunity to oppose the kind of Tory cuts being cited as a rationale to hive off staff to the private sector.

Our previous coverage

National Gallery staff strike action

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