Staff plan walk out at National Gallery in London

Staff at a world famous venue are set to strike next
month.The  Public and Commercial
Services union (PCS) said its members at the
art gallery, in Trafalgar Square,
London, voted for walkouts by more than nine to one.

Workers at the
National Gallery will strike for a week over plans to hand all visitor services
to a private company, the Public and Commercial Services union announces.

The union says that the five-day walkout from next Tuesday (3 February) to Saturday (7 February) inclusive will put
the spotlight on a sell-off that, they claim, threatens the reputation of the gallery.

Around half the gallery’s 600 staff
were eligible to take part in the ballot Union (PCS), with a 62 per cent turnout of
members voting 94 per cent in favour.

The union says gallery bosses want to privatise almost all staff,
including those who look after corporate events at the venue.

A spokesman for the PCS said: “They have also reneged on a promise to introduce
the London living wage, meaning the institution is the only major museum or
gallery in the capital that does not pay it.”

A spokeswoman for the National Gallery said that event organisers are being
encouraged to check the website for updates but the expectation is that the
National Gallery will remain open throughout the strike.

She said: “The
PCS union leadership opposed the change and, despite five months of dialogue,
we were not able to meet an agreement. During these discussions, the
National Gallery proposed not only to meet the London Living Wage but to pay a
basic salary in excess of it.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “With
this vote, staff are telling their managers loudly and clearly they do not want
to work for a private security firm, they want to carry on working for the
National Gallery.” 

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Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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