PCS members walk out again over privatisation plans

'Portrait of a Man with Raised Eyebrows' by Giovanni Battista Moroni, hanging in the National Gallery

‘Portrait of a Man with Raised Eyebrows’ by Giovanni Battista Moroni, hanging in the National Gallery

A fresh wave of five days of strike action at the National Gallery starts today as senior officials reject PCS plans to avoid privatisation.

Last month the union 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.

Strikes will be held from Tuesday until Saturday. This follows two periods of five-day walkouts in February.

The gallery prematurely ended negotiations at the end of last year and announced it was pressing ahead with plans to outsource the work of 400 of its 600 staff. At that point senior managers had limited the scope of discussions.

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.

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.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our plans would resolve the issues at the heart of this dispute so it is very disappointing that the National Gallery appears unwilling to discuss them.

“This privatisation is completely unnecessary and risks undermining the gallery’s well earned reputation as one of our country’s greatest cultural assets.”


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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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