PCS members say suspending rep Candy Udwin has backfired on bosses

PCS members on strike at the National Gallery, February 2015. © Tim Lezard

PCS members on strike at the National Gallery, February 2015. © Tim Lezard

Striking staff at the National Gallery say sacking their senior rep has backfired on managers, with non-PCS members supporting the union action.

Candy Udwin was suspended on Monday afternoon, just hours before her colleagues walked out in their row over privatisation.

Bosses have banned union members from speaking to the media, but speaking on the condition of anonymity, one striker told USi News: “People are completely horrified about Candy being suspended.

“It has made our action stronger because people can see what we’re up against. Even people who aren’t on strike because they’re not PCS members are shocked and angry about it, saying they don’t want to work for the kind of company that does that to somebody.”

The strike today enters its fourth day, with spirits remaining high.

“The gallery is intent on privatising 2/3rds of their staff,” explained the PCS member. “You might ask why when so few of the gallery staff, including the senior managers , think it’s a good idea. It appears to be a small group of people who are intent on pushing this through.

“We’ve always felt part of their agenda is to attack our pay and conditions, as well as the union, and that really is proved by what they did on Monday when they suspended Candy.

“We have concerns that a private company can only make a profit by cutting costs, either by cutting the number of staff or cutting our wages and conditions.

“We also think privatisation is bad for visitors because some of our members have worked here for 30 years and know about, and care about, the collection.

“They will be replaced by security guards, who through no fault of their own, have been told it’s not their job to answers questions about the paintings.”

* You can sign a petition against the privatisation plans here and you can sign a petition calling for the reinstatement of Candy Udwin here.


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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