Around 100 staff at the National Gallery in central London walked out for two hours on Tuesday of this week in their dispute over pay.
The warders and security staff, who are members of the PCS civil service workers’ union, voted by 82 percent to strike after management imposed a pay offer before Christmas.
This means that most warders earn as little as £7 an hour, which is 60p less than the recommended London Living Wage. Most workers are on less than £15,000 a year. They struck for two hours from 12 noon.
The walkout came halfway through the PCS’s crucial strike ballot of its 270,000 members facing attacks on their redundancy rights.
New Labour wants to cut the terms of the Civil Service Compensation Scheme – the payouts workers receive when they are made redundant. It will then move to make major job losses across the civil service in an attempt to reduce its budget deficit.
This will make it easier to sell off services to privateers.
PCS activists are reporting that many people are voting to strike as they are angry with the way management is treating them across the board.
Workers’ fury has been intensified by the cabinet office sending a letter to Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary, claiming the union is sending members “inaccurate and misleading” information.
The ballot ends on 25 February. Activists are arguing that a campaign of hard-hitting national strikes can win this fight.
The union plans to kick-start the action with a two-day national strike, followed by regional action. But this must not mean the end of national action.