Socialist Worker

National Gallery workers vote for more action if bosses don't back down

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2451

Let a thousand flowers bloom–National Gallery strikers hold up the sunflowers

'Let a thousand flowers bloom'–National Gallery strikers hold up the sunflowers (Pic: Socialist Worker )


Workers at the National Gallery in central London completed their 23rd strike day yesterday, Friday, and warned bosses they could face more walkouts.

The workers are fighting bosses’ plans to privatise 400 out of 600 jobs and attacks on trade union rights.

They voted yesterday for more action if the privatisation plans are not stopped–and if their victimised PCS union rep Candy Udwin is dismissed.

Bosses suspended Candy on the eve of the workers’ first five-day walk out in January. 

Her disciplinary hearing is set to take place on 12 May. Workers are organising a protest on the day of the hearing outside the National Gallery. 

The PCS has said it will back whatever action the workers decide to take.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told Socialist Worker, “Remarkable solidarity has been shown–and the strikers have been getting stronger with each day.

“It now looks like they have won the London Living Wage. They are determined to stop the privatisation and determined to get justice for Candy. 

“And if the privatisation is not stopped and if Candy is dismissed, we are ready to take whatever action our members decide to do.”

Demonstration

The union has also announced it will be organising a national demonstration to support the workers for Saturday 30 May on the gallery’s doorstep in Trafalgar Square. It is calling on supporters to join it.

One striker told Socialist Worker, “The strikes have been going really well. But now we need to step up the action and also get back out around the country to do more of the speaking tours.”

Strikers marched alongside striking council workers and other trade unionists and activists on yesterday’s May Day march and rally in Trafalgar Square. 

They made 1,000 sunflowers to hand out to May Day marchers, which were then held up when Candy addressed the rally.

She told the crowd, “We want to send a message that our museums and galleries, our arts and culture, they should be free for all–not just playgrounds for the rich.

“We have got to get rid of the government next week. We hope that a new government will intervene and tell bosses to do a deal with us.

“But I’ll send a message to the gallery–if they insist on privatising us and attacking our union then we will escalate the strike action we have taken already.”

Candy urged people to get behind the strikers.

“Your support has been fantastic–it can give everybody heart. It shows that people around this country want to see an alternative to austerity. They want to see people standing up. We need to support whoever is fighting back.”

Find out how you can donate to the strike fund, and invite workers to speak at ngnotforsale.wordpress.com

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.