13 August 2015
National Gallery workers are on all-out strike against privatisation.
The latest strike action comes as part of a long running dispute. PCS members have been on strike more than 50 times over the last year.
PCS industrial officer Paul Bemrose said: “The mood on the picket line today was upbeat and members are feeling positive. There was a picket line of about 30 members and we have heard that more rooms inside the Gallery have been closed than on previous strike days.”
All-out strike action was called because the gallery has announced the appointment of private security firm Securitas to manage the visitor-facing and security services on a 5-year contract reportedly worth £40million. Around 400 of the 600 staff will be affected by the move.
Although TUPE – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) – will require staff to be transferred to the private company on the same terms, it only ensures the staff will be on the the Securitas payroll, not that they will continue in their current positions at the National Gallery. Furthermore, despite the gallery’s protestations, privatisation inevitably leads to poorer pay and conditions for staff in the long run.
Union rep Candy Udwin was suspended the day before the strike began, and then sacked. She is attending an appeal hearing in response to the victimisation, with an employment tribunal interim relief judgement having ruled she had likely been unfairly dismissed for trade union activities.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka described the contract being given to Securitas as an “act of provocation”, after PCS having appealed to gallery director Dr Gabriele Finaldi to help resolve the dispute.
He said; ”It is extremely disappointing that while PCS continues to try to reach a negotiated settlement, gallery management has pressed on with privatisation without any further engagement with the union. This is in spite of the fact that the dispute, which has so far included 52 days of strike action and will see further strikes next week, followed by continuous strike action from mid-August, has been extremely disruptive and damaging for the gallery”
“We call on Dr Nicholas Penny to explain why he now believes that selling our members’ jobs to Securitas is the ‘right decision’ when only a few weeks ago he stated in the press that National Gallery staff should remain in-house. What has changed and why is gallery management so determined to press on with this course, to the cost of its reputation and its relationship with its dedicated employees?”
Follow the campaign against privatisation on Facebook , and donate to the strike fund (sort code 08-60-01; Account Number 20169002).