Socialist Worker

All-out National Gallery strike over privatisation grows stronger

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2468

Strikers and supporters on the picket line this week

Strikers and supporters on the picket line this week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


An appeal hearing into the dismissal of PCS union rep Candy Udwin on Wednesday of last week upheld National Gallery bosses’ decision to dismiss her.

But the workers, who are on all-out strike, are determined to beat the bosses’ attack. National Gallery striker Arthur told Socialist Worker, “We’ll keep fighting until Candy is reinstated.”

Candy was suspended on the eve of workers’ first five-day walkout against privatisation in January. 

Bosses sacked her in May for “gross misconduct”. Candy had drafted a question for a PCS official about the cost of hiring private security firm CIS.

National Gallery bosses brought forward the privatisation of 300 jobs earlier this month. Workers are fighting to maintain their terms and conditions under outsourcer Securitas. 

Different groups of workers and campaigners are picking days to show solidarity. 

Unite union construction workers joined the picket line last Saturday. Mick Innes from Reading told Socialist Worker, “We know all about union busting firms in our industry. 

Stand

“But taking a stand like this shows we’re not isolated.”

Building workers donated £250 to the strike fund and the CWU postal workers’ union East Midlands region has agreed to donate £100 a week. 

Stuart Graham is the Unison union rep for Glasgow homelessness caseworkers who went on all-out strike and won. He told Socialist Worker, “We’re collecting among the caseworkers and will be going around all the council stewards. 

“We’ll keep collecting as long as the strike continues.”

Health workers in Whipps Cross Hospital in east London collected £45 when they took a striker round last week. Unison rep Sam Strudwick told Socialist Worker, “We set up a table in the canteen and loads of people came up to sign.”

This self-activity is boosting workers’ confidence.

New director Finaldi talks to Candy outside the gallery

New director Finaldi talks to Candy outside the gallery (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Striker Bart told Socialist Worker, “The first meeting we had since going all out was full. Then we couldn’t fit everyone into the next one.”

National Museum of Wales PCS members struck against attacks on weekend pay last Saturday. National Museum of Scotland workers began a seven-day strike against a similar attack on Monday. 

They were all set to strike together this Saturday. 

Talks with new gallery director Gabriele Finaldi were ongoing as Socialist Worker went to press.

Bart said, “We’re going to carry on until Candy’s reinstated and we get what we want.”

Workers spoke in a personal capacity. Some names have been changed. 
Donate to the strike fund—Sort code 08 60 01, account no. 20169002. Cheques to PCS Culture Media and Sport Association, c/o PCS North West Region, Jack Jones House, 1 Islington, Liverpool L3 8EG. Visit picket lines from 9-11am every day and 5-6.30pm on Fridays. Contact strikers at noprivatisationatng@gmail.com 

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