Socialist Worker

National Gallery workers defiant as they begin a fresh walkout

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2442

Victimised union rep Candy Udwin (front) joins National Gallery strikers

Victimised union rep Candy Udwin (front) joins National Gallery strikers (Pic: Guy Smallman)

A five-day strike by workers at the National Gallery in central London has got bosses rattled.

The PCS union members began their walkout last Sunday. It is the second five-day strike they have staged in their fight against privatisation.

The action forced some events at the gallery to be cancelled—which has got management worried.

A spokesperson for the gallery attacked the strikers on the first day of their walkout.

They said the action was having a “negative impact” on events for young children and children with special education needs.

But strikers are clear that it is bosses’ attacks on the workforce that are damaging, with plans to privatise 400 out of 600 jobs.

Management has also backed off from promises to pay the London Living Wage, meaning that the gallery is the only one in London that doesn’t pay it.

And on the eve of workers’ first five-day walkout earlier this month they suspended union rep Candy Udwin.

Candy joined strikers on the picket line on Sunday morning outside the gallery.

Workers spoke of the “overwhelming” solidarity that the dispute and Candy have received. 


Over 8,000 people have signed a statement calling for her reinstatement.

Trade unionists and campaigners have also taken pictures of themselves with posters demanding, “Reinstate Candy”. 

Delegates at last Saturday’s Unison south east regional council are the latest to show their support.

Supporters visited the picket line too. On Sunday a Unite union construction rep brought a £500 donation to the strikers.

Andy Reid, a PCS branch secretary at an HMRC office in central London, also came to the picket line to show support.

He told Socialist Worker, “PCS members are inspired to see people fight against the tide of privatisation and the attacks on the idea of a public service.”

Andy said that there was also a lot of anger at the treatment of Candy. 

“People are disgusted at the attacks on a union rep that echo the government’s general attacks on union democracy as a whole,” he said.

Strikers planned to hold a national day of action in support of the dispute on Thursday of this week. They will march following a rally outside the National Gallery at 1pm.

Talks between the union and bosses were due at conciliation service Acas on Tuesday of this week.

The union has drawn up alternative proposals to bosses’ plans. 

Strikers were set to demonstrate outside the BBC Culture Question Time on Tuesday of this week.

Join the national day of action on Thursday of this week

1pm Rally at National Gallery

1.30pm March to tell Mark Getty Chair of National Gallery Trustees - Hands off National Gallery staff

Everyone can join in

Download Solidarity Poster and share your photo

If you can’t make it to the Gallery you can download the Solidarity poster and share your photo

Send Mark Getty a message by twitter

Sign up now to the Thunderclap which will be released on Thursday

Facebook page

How to help the strike:

Invite strikers to your union or campaign meeting—email [email protected]

Donate to the strike fund—sort code 086001, account number 20169002
Make cheques payable to Culture Sector Hardship Fund, c/o PCS North West Region, Jack Jones House, 1 Islington, Liverpool, L3 8EG

Download #ReinstateCandy poster at


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