Angry PCS union members at the Tate galleries in London launched a strike on Tuesday against over 300 job cuts. The redundancies target those who work for Tate Commerce in shops, restaurants and publishing across all of the Tate galleries.
The cuts come despite the Tate applying to receive a £7 million government bailout. Jonathan, a senior PCS rep who works in the shop at Tate Modern, told Socialist Worker that retail workers “are the lowest paid and now it feels like we are the most disposable”.
Julia, who has worked in retail at Tate Modern for six years, said, “The shop brings in millions of profit, yet the workers there aren’t valued.”
She added that office workers at the gallery had been reassigned to work in the shops to undermine the strike. Many of the workers were furious that they could lose their jobs during a pandemic.
“We truly like our jobs, and to lose them now in a time of such hardship with the virus is utterly heartbreaking,” said Lisa.
Gallery union rep Anna said, “The Tate bosses try to tell us that we are all a family and a community of artists. But really they are the same as any capitalist business that doesn’t value their workers.”
Hamish added, “The top bosses earn upwards of £100,000 a year. They say they are going to take a tiny pay cut, but that’s a joke—they should do more and save our jobs.”
Workers at Tate Modern gathered outside the staff entrance for a picket and counted out loud the number of staff facing redundancy— which currently stands at 313. They then marched to outside the Tate’s Turbine Hall and held a rally chanting, “Coronavirus—not an excuse to fire us.”
Union members want 10 percent of the £7 million bailout to be used to save the jobs. They planned to strike on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week and then indefinitely from next Monday.
- Mass protest—Saturday 22 August, 11.30am–3.13pm, Tate Modern main entrance
- For solidarity details go to AgiTate on Facebook
- Donate to the strike fund at bit.ly/TateStrike
Workers’ names have been changed