Socialist Worker

Protests and strikes against arts job cull

Issue No. 2720

A protest installation at the Tate Modern

A protest installation at the Tate Modern (Pic: @Tate_United on Twitter)


Art and culture workers protested outside the National Theatre in London last Saturday against more than 1,000 “callous” job cuts.

Workers demanded improved redundancy payouts and rehiring for casual staff.

They also highlighted the scandal that some arts bosses have kept their salaries of over £100,000 a year.

The Tate, the National Theatre and the Southbank Centre declared mass redundancies because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Up to 400 people are expected to lose their jobs at the Southbank Centre and the National Theatre, and more than 300 at the Tate.

In May, the Southbank Centre revealed it was at risk of closure until April 2021 because charity funds had run out, and its losses would amount to £11 million.

Paul Valentine, a visitor experience host at the Southbank Centre and chair of the PCS union branch, said the cuts are “draconian”.

“We feel like the government has let us down”, he said.

“Obviously to the public the bailout to the arts sounds like a lot of money but really that’s not going to the people that need it.”

He said that many people are “thinking ‘I’m going to lose my job, how am I going to pay my rent’.

“But a lot of the executives and number crunchers, have got the money to plan in advance.”

Siannon, who also works at the Southbank Centre, said, “I’m getting a third of the redundancy pay that I’m owed. That’s about a month and a half’s rent and expenses for me. We’ve been treated with contempt. It’s like they actually hate us—but we’re the ones making the money.”

  • Workers at the Tate galleries in London continue their battle against 313 redundancies.

Last weekend they erected an “installation” of T-shirts outside the Bankside Gallery representing the workers thrown on the scrapheap.

Donate to the strike fund at bit.ly/TateStrike

For solidarity details go to AgiTate on Facebook

  • The month long strike by cleaners at HMRC tax offices in Merseyside was set to end this week. PCS union members are fighting outsourcer ISS over low pay and poor working conditions.

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