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London Gallery staff on strike against privatisations

31 March 2015
The Public and commercial services union (PCS), a PSI affiliate in the UK, continues its actions against privatisation at London's National Gallery.


National gallery staff held further strikes on 14-15 March and from 24-28 March as senior officials rejected the Public and Commercial Services union's plans to avoid privatisation.

The union had submitted formal proposals to director Nicholas Penny and chair of trustees Mark Getty for changes to rotas and flexible working that would avoid a sell-off of all the gallery's visitor services. The union wanted the document to form part of ongoing negotiations at the conciliation service Acas but the gallery has rejected this.

On 24 March, PCS launched a People’s Inquiry into the Future of the National Gallery at a meeting in the British parliament.

Staff at London's National Gallery are on strike following the Gallery's decision to privatise almost all staff, including those who look after the paintings and help the gallery's six million annual visitors.

Almost 9,000 supporters have signed an online statement calling for the reinstatement of PCS rep and negotiator Candy Udwin who was suspended on the eve of the strike. A House of Commons motion condemns the sell-off plan and calls on the government to intervene in Candy's case.

PCS has submitted formal plans that it says would avoid the privatisation. Detailed proposals to meet the gallery's needs for changes to rotas and flexible working have been presented to the director Nicholas Penny and chair of trustees Mark Getty.

The union's proposals point out that, despite the gallery's claims, no other major museum or gallery has privatised all of its visitor staff in this way. It says the starting point for any plans to improve services should be by developing the skills among existing staff.

The gallery is only managing to maintain some services with the help of private security firm CIS, reportedly drafted in "to give the gallery staff a fright".

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka says, "We have put forward very well thought out and reasonable proposals and believe we can resolve the issues, but the National Gallery must be willing to talk. This privatisation is completely unnecessary and risks undermining the gallery's well-earned reputation as one of our country's greatest cultural assets."

Please support the National Gallery's staff in their struggle against the privatisation of their jobs.

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