Socialist Worker

Bosses feel the heat as support grows for National Gallery strikers

National Gallery workers are organising to pile pressure on their bosses, reports Annette Mackin

Issue No. 2447

National Gallery strikers march on Downing Street last week

National Gallery strikers march on Downing Street last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Workers at the National Gallery in central London completed their latest five-day walkout last Saturday. 

They have struck for a total of 17 days this year against bosses’ plans to privatise 400 out of 600 gallery staff.

Workers were set to meet on Wednesday of this week to decide on the next round of action. There are calls to escalate the action if bosses continue to refuse to stop the proposals.

The PCS union launched a People’s Inquiry into the Future of the National Gallery at a meeting in parliament on Tuesday of last week.

Strikers and supporters discussed strategies to put pressure on gallery bosses, who are refusing to attend Acas conciliation talks with the union.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told the meeting, “We need to build maximum pressure on people who are very hardnosed.”

As well as backing more industrial action Serwotka said the union was also “considering the practicalities of having a major protest rally in Trafalgar Square on the doorstep of the gallery”.

Gallery bosses suspended PCS rep Candy Udwin in January before the first five-day walkout. They also sent the union a six-page letter targeting other activists at the gallery.


Serwotka said, “Candy is bearing the brunt, and we are supporting her absolutely. Her reinstatement must be pivotal to solving this dispute.”

The tendering process happens just days before the general election. Workers also want to use any action to put pressure on MPs to put a moratorium on the privatisation plans.

On Thursday of last week strikers staged a rally outside the gallery in Trafalgar Square as part of a national day of action against privatisation.

Following the rally, strikers blocked traffic as they marched to Downing Street to hand in a letter demanding that the privatisation be halted.

Solidarity events took place around the country, and strikers have been on speaking tours to Leeds, Barnsley, Huddersfield, Cardiff and Bristol.

One striker described his solidarity trip to South Yorkshire. He said, “The support that we got was amazing—we raised £1,300 for the hardship fund.”

Left wing film maker Ken Loach, who was also at the rally, told Socialist Worker about his support for the strike and Candy. 

He said, “I’ve known Candy for a number of years. Everyone who meets her has a lot of respect for her. It’s typical that the gallery has gone for somebody who is articulate and clear, and committed to the people she works with.”

Candy said, “We’re up against it inside the gallery, but it’s the support we’ve got from outside that’s kept us going.”

Information about donating to the strike fund and inviting strikers to speak can be found at 


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Tue 31 Mar 2015, 15:59 BST
Issue No. 2447
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