PCS members on strike at the National Gallery, February 2015. © Tim Lezard A ‘people’s inquiry’ into the reasons for and implications of the planned privatisation at the National Gallery will today be launched in Parliament by the PCS. The launch event …

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

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

A ‘people’s inquiry’ into the reasons for and implications of the planned privatisation at the National Gallery will today be launched in Parliament by the PCS.

The launch event at 6.30pm in committee room 6 of the House of Commons comes on the day the union’s members at the gallery begin another five-day walkout.

Running from Tuesday to Saturday, this will mean they have taken 17 days of strike action over plans to sell off all visitor services to a private company.

The union understands the invitations to tender will be issued two days before the general election, in a deliberate attempt to avoid scrutiny. The announcement of Gabriele Finaldi as the next gallery director was made on Budget day last week.

The inquiry will not only look at the privatisation plans but also what the union believes is a crisis of management that has led to the decision, as 10 senior managers have left in the last two years.

Among other issues, the inquiry will examine why the gallery is still not paying the London living wage, what the alternatives to outsourcing are, bullying and harassment, and trade union rights.

Speakers at the launch event include the union’s general secretary Mark Serwotka and employment law expert John Hendy QC.

Last month the union submitted formal proposals to current director Nicholas Penny and chair of trustees Mark Getty for changes to rotas and flexible working that would avoid a sell-off.

Gallery bosses rejected the union’s request that this document formed part of ongoing negotiations at the conciliation service Acas.

The dispute was inflamed when on the eve of the first strike managers suspended one of the union’s senior reps who is involved in the Acas talks.

Mark Serwotka said: “The National Gallery is one of our country’s greatest cultural assets but its reputation risks being seriously undermined by this completely unnecessary privatisation.

“The public has a right to ask questions about how this decision was reached and to offer solutions to safeguard the gallery’s future.”


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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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