Striking National Gallery workers sent a message to bosses last week, “We are not going away.”
The workers were set to end their latest ten-day walkout on Thursday of this week, taking the total strike days this year up to 47.
An appeal hearing for sacked PCS union rep Candy Udwin was due to take place on Thursday—but bosses moved it to 22 July. One striker told Socialist Worker, “It’s ridiculous they are messing us around like this—but we are not giving up. We are in good spirits and feel strong.”
Labour MP John McDonnell arranged a debate in parliament last week on the privatisation of 400 out of 600 jobs at the gallery.
Tory culture minister Ed Vaizey showed his ignorance by stating that the gallery is the first major London museum to pay the London Living Wage—it was the last.
McDonnell pressed Vaizey to agree in principle that bosses should return to Acas talks, but Vaizey would not agree. The stubbornness of the government and bosses has only fired up strikers.
“There was a really good turnout at parliament,” a striker said, adding that the solid turnouts on picket lines were “a real boost”.
Strikers held a picket line protest outside the gallery on Friday of last week. People queued to sign the petition demanding an end to the privatisation plans. They were visited by two workers from the all-out Glasgow homelessness caseworkers strike (see page 19).
Last Saturday the gallery strikers marched on the trade union bloc at Pride.
In August Gabriele Finaldi is due to take over as the gallery’s director. He has the power to stop the tendering process which began just before the general election.
Workers are planning the next stages to pile on the pressure and bury the privatisation plans.