Socialist Worker

National Gallery strikers return to work amid applause from their supporters

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2473

Workers including sacked PCS rep Candy Udwin (centre) cheer the news of the deal last week

Workers including sacked PCS rep Candy Udwin (centre) cheer the news of the deal last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


National Gallery workers marched back into work this morning, Monday, after they beat bosses’ attacks on their terms and conditions and union rights.

Around 50 workers and supporters rallied outside the gallery in central London before the strikers marched into work.

Not all workers had shifts today – but some marched in with everyone else anyway.

Although the privatisation of the staff was pushed through, bosses conceded nearly all of workers’ demands and agreed to reinstate sacked PCS union rep Candy Udwin.

This was only possible because workers kept fighting and struck 111 days.

Candy told the rally, “I want to thank the strikers and everyone who’s shown solidarity with us.

“We haven’t just inspired ourselves – we’ve inspired other people.”

The gallery’s new director Gabrielle Finaldi briefly showed up at the rally and shook Candy’s hand.

Solidarity has been crucial to winning this dispute – and many of the workers’ supporters were there.

Delighted

Martin Brown, from the Equity actors’ union, told Socialist Worker, “I’m absolutely delighted to see a group of workers stand up and win.

“We’re part of the same industry and have been supporting them in their fight.”

The National Gallery workers have shown that when workers fight they can win – and is a boost to those fighting bosses everywhere.

Katy, a PCS union member works for the National Museum of Wales where workers are fighting attacks on pay, came down to show solidarity.

She told Socialist Worker, “Things can seem a bit isolated in Wales, especially on the museum’s smaller sites.

“But everything that’s happened has inspired us – and we’ve learned so much with the solidarity. You have to fight against an aggressive management.”

The PCS union members had been fighting the privatisation of 300 jobs and the sacking of Candy.

But following a deal they’ve have secured the London Living Wage, union recognition and their terms and conditions when privateer Securitas takes over in November.

The strike was suspended pending ministerial approval.

Workers now plan to launch a national campaign to support museums and galleries workers.

The National Gallery workers led the way in fighting the Tories’ and bosses’ attacks – now we have to spread their victory across the class. 

 


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