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Thursday, 2 July

Playing to the Gallery

The trench warfare between the management of the National Gallery and the PCS union is set to continue with more strike action next week.

The third series of strikes over the outsourcing of gallery staff will take place between 24-28 March at London’s National Gallery.

This follows action that has already been taken by members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union – 3-7 and 22-26 February and 14-15 March 2015. The union had argued that its proposals for changes to rotas and flexible working would avoid the planned sell-off of all the gallery's visitor services.

Director Nicholas Penny and the Chair of trustees, Mark Getty, have rejected the PCS request that the document formed part of continuing negotiations at the conciliation service, ACAS.

It has argued that the PCS opposition to the introduction of a new roster for some visitor facing and security staff was preventing it to operate more flexibly.  In a statement, the management said: ‘In conjunction with the new roster, we proposed not only to meet the London Living Wage, but to pay a basic salary in excess of it. Regardless, from April we will pay staff a top-up which will bring salaries in line with the London Living Wage.’

The management are confident that the entrance to the Inventing Impressionism will not be affected but conceded many of its planned education events have had to be cancelled or rescheduled, including the popular family programmes.

Blaming the union action that it says has occurred over nine years, the management state: ‘As a result of the PCS position, we will now appoint an external partner to manage these services.  Affected staff will transfer across; there will be no job cuts and terms and conditions will be protected.’

The PCS rejects this accusation. Its General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, said the situation was "very disappointing" and that senior managers appeared unwilling to discuss the PCS plans. "This privatisation risks undermining the gallery's well earned reputation as one of our country's greatest cultural assets."

Approximately 6 million visitors come to the National Gallery every year.

Picture: Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, appears adamant that he will press ahead with outsourcing despite next week’s strike.

Article written by TWinFM Reporter


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