John McDonnell secures adjournment debate in the Commons on the plans that have led to long-running PCS strike

PCS members on strike at the National Gallery, 2014 © Tim Lezard

PCS members on strike at the National Gallery, 2014 © Tim Lezard

MPs will today debate the planned privatisation at the National Gallery as PCS members there continue their latest 10-day strike.

John McDonnell has secured an adjournment debate in the Commons on the plans that would mean all the gallery’s visitor services being handed to a private company.

Earlier this month an employment tribunal judge found it was likely one of the union’s senior reps Candy Udwin had been unfairly sacked for her union activities on the eve of the first strike in February.

The gallery has refused to reinstate her so the judge ordered she should continue to receive full pay and benefits from the date of her dismissal pending a full tribunal hearing in October.

The gallery wants to privatise 400 of its 600 staff – all visitor services, including the attendants who help and advise the world-renowned institution’s six million annual visitors.

In a bid to resolve the dispute, the union has written to incoming gallery director Gabriele Finaldi to request an urgent meeting before he takes over in August.

The latest 10-day strike will end on July 2nd, taking the total strike days held this year to 45.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “MPs will be pointing out this privatisation plan is not only unnecessary but risks damaging the gallery’s well earned reputation as one of the country’s greatest cultural institutions.

“This dispute and the sacking of our representative will be the first things across Gabriele Finaldi’s desk when he takes over, so we have asked to meet urgently to discuss how we can resolve the issues.”

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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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