Socialist Worker

Take action to mark 100 days of National Gallery walkout

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2472

There were ten NUT teachers’ union banners on the National Gallery picket line last week

There were ten NUT teachers’ union banners on the National Gallery picket line last week (Pic: Socialist Worker )


The TUC has called a national day of action for strikers at the National Gallery set for Thursday of this week.

The day of action will mark 100 days of a strike against privatisation and victimisation at the gallery.

National Gallery strikers got a huge boost on Tuesday of last week when Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn used his speech at TUC congress to call for support for the strike.

“Welcome to those strikers from PCS from the National Gallery for what they are going through at the present time,” he said. 

“They look after our national treasures in the National Gallery. They do it well. They love what they do and they love what we have got in our National Gallery. Please, let’s not privatise our galleries and privatise our staff. 

“Well done to you for your campaign.”

TUC delegates also gave strikers a standing ovation.

Speaking in a video appeal for support (see box), victimised PCS union rep Candy Udwin said, “We’re really pleased that at the TUC congress we got a standing ovation. 

“We now have support from the TUC for our strike to demand an end to privatisation and my reinstatement.

“We were also delighted that Jeremy Corbyn in his speech at the congress called for support for our strike and talked about why it’s important to oppose the gallery’s privatisation plans.

“It’s just great to have Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell leading the Labour Party—people who have supported our strike right from the beginning.”

Privatisation 

The members of the PCS union have been fighting against privatisation since January of this year—and have been on all out strike since the middle of August.

They are also fighting for the reinstatement of Candy, who was suspended by gallery bosses ahead of the first walkout in January then sacked in May.

A privatisation deal saw some 300 jobs outsourced to private company Securitas in August. 

The strikers are fighting to secure their terms and conditions before Securitas take over in November.

Talks between gallery management and PCS officials are ongoing.

But gallery workers have already received letters inviting them to attend training for SIA security licenses ahead of the takeover. 

The PCS is calling on workers not to sign anything or attend the training until the dispute is resolved.

The all-out strike has had a big effect since it began, with bosses having to keep at least half of the rooms in the gallery closed.

And the widespread support it has received can help to tip the balance.

That support was on show on Friday of last week. Strikers were joined by members of the NUT teachers’ union with ten banners and NUT president Max Hyde.

But the strikers will need as much support as they can get to help them win.

Donate to the strike fund—Sort Code 08-60-01, Account No. 20169002 or send cheques to PCS Culture Media and Sport Association, c/o PCS North West Region, Jack Jones House, 1 Islington, Liverpool L3 8EG

Join day of action Thursday 24 September, 1pm, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square


Video solidarity appeal

Candy released a video appeal for support on Thursday of last week.

She said, “We’re hoping that the talks will get somewhere. But we really need your support to make sure that we win.

“So we’re asking for your support on our day of action on 24 September. You could do a collection, you could organise a protest outside where you work or a show of support. 

“People have surprised themselves with how much they’ve raised. Whether its £25 or £250 it all adds up.

“Lastly, what we’d like to ask people to do is to do the same thing as us.

“We need more of a fightback.

“The message from the National Gallery is, we can do it—anyone can do it.

“If our strike wins it won’t just be a victory for us. It’ll be a victory for all of us.”

Watch at youtu.be/ni5KfbTmnu8

 


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