Following the recent agreement, which saw signficant progress made on pay and conditions in the National Gallery for current and future staff; as well as the reinstatement of leading PCS representative Candy Udwin, the members of the National Gallery Branch have sent the following message to Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary:
The agreement, which saw National Gallery members return to work on Monday 5 October after well over 100 days of strike action, shows clearly the major concessions that can be won when trade union members stand together.
PCS congratulates all those mostly low-paid members, who stood firm for so long; in order to secure those gains and the full reinstatement of their colleague; and for the present, we are continuing our fundraising efforts on behalf of those low-paid members.
PCS would also like to add our thanks to all of the trade union branches, organisations, and many members of the wider public, who have been so wholehearted in their support for the campaign (including support from as far afield as New York, Paris and Dublin).
Despite the Employment Tribunal interim relief hearing deciding that a full Tribunal hearing is likely to rule that Candy Udwin has been sacked because of her Trade Union activities; National Gallery management have rejected Candy's internal appeal against dismissal.
PCS met with the new Director, Gabriele Finaldi, at the end of last week; and again pressed for management to do the right thing, by reinstating Candy and halting the privatisation.
If Dr Finaldi needs any encouragement, he needs only to look at the petition calling for the ending of the privatisation and the reinstatement of Candy. The petition has doubled in size from 60,000 to over 130,000 in the week since he took office.
The first week of indefinite action in the National Gallery, which started on 11 August, saw more support, more of the Gallery closed, more publicity, more people joining us to show solidarity, more money raised for our strike fund, and more signatures for our petition - which now numbers over 97,000 supporters and still growing.
PCS has also had initial talks with the National Gallery and with the private company, Securitas, and further talks are now planned. Importantly, the new Director, Gabriele Finaldi, has agreed to meet with PCS this week.
The second week of the indefinite action includes the following events:
With indefinite strike action underway, the Gallery strikers are making a fresh appeal for financial support; You can help the campaign in a number of ways:
The interim relief judgement of the Employment Tribunal decided that, should the case have to go to full hearing, it is likely that a Tribunal would find that Candy had been dismissed for what were entirely legitimate Trade Union acitivities.
The management hearing regarding Candy’s appeal against dismissal has concluded. As yet, neither Candy nor PCS have been given any indication of the outcome, but look out for details on the PCS website for news as soon as it arrives.
PCS members in the National Gallery are making an urgent appeal for further support, following the decision by the National Gallery to appoint the private security company Securitas to undertake some visitor-facing and security functions in the Gallery.
PCS members, who have already taken 52 days of strike action in opposition to the privatisation and to demand the reinstatement of unjustly sacked PCS rep Candy Udwin, are striking again between 4-6 August. The Union, which has repeatedly urged management to work with PCS and the conciliation service ACAS to resolve the dispute, views the decision to announce the private sector provider now as a deliberately inflammatory move by Gallery management. Consequently PCS have now served notice on the Gallery that the Union plans to commence all-out continuous strike action from 11 August.
Thank you for your fantastic solidarity.We continue to be overwhelmed by the solidarity shown to our strikers. Thousands of pounds have been raised for our strike fund, with collections of hundreds of pounds coming in each day, showing the growing backing we have nationwide.
You can read the Judge’s damning summing-up below:
“it actually says no more than that the claimant did what any employee, but perhaps more particularly one in the trade union looking for relevant material, could have done. That is, she accessed the respondent’s internet legitimately and found a document that was marked private and confidential. Having found the document she used it to do a calculation. That cannot be wrong or improper.
"....the claimant could have shared this with any other employee entirely legitimately. Instead, she told Mr Bemrose, her trade union national negotiator. I consider it highly likely that it will be accepted, as the claimant urges, that an internal trade union representative (here, the claimant) is at liberty to consult a senior national (i.e. external) trade union negotiator freely and openly with relevant concerns......I do not consider it likely that the claimant informing Mr Bemrose will be found to be culpable of blameworthy conduct, let alone gross misconduct........
"I consider it is likely that it will be accepted at the employment tribunal that the claimant was engaged in trade union activities. I further consider it likely that to the extent that Dr Foister did believe that it was gross misconduct, as to which I express no conclusion, the tribunal will find that she was wrong and that she had categorised it manifestly excessively. I consider that the information available to Dr Foister will be thought not to found a reasonable belief that what the claimant actually did was gross misconduct. That is, it is likely to be found that the publication to Mr Bemrose was not misconduct which the claimant was attempting to cloak with trade union activities as a defence. It actually was permissible trade union activities is what I consider an employment tribunal is likely to find.”
After the recent interim tribunal judgement, Candy Udwin is back on the National Gallery payroll; and the judge ruled it was likely a full hearing would find she had been dismissed for trade union activities. This vindicates the stand PCS has taken against her victimisation.
Director Nicholas Penny who received a knighthood last week will hear Candy’s appeal against dismissal on 2 July.
You can send a Freedom of Information request to ask the very question that Gallery management consider so unreasonable.
Pressure is building, and the Gallery have finally been forced to agree to pay the Living Wage. Now PCS have asked the newly appointed Director Gabriele Finaldi who takes office in August, to help get the Gallery back into talks with PCS.
A speaking tour is underway; and we will try to meet requests for speakers all round the country, so please do get in touch via CULTURESECTOR@pcs.org.uk.
Thank you for all your support that has allowed us to get this far. Please help us keep going!
The low-paid staff rely on our donations to help keep the campaign and the strikes going. So please do donate whatever you can. There are also other ways to donate to the strikers.
You can help support the PCS National Gallery campaign against privatisation and for the reinstatement of victimised PCS rep Candy Udwin in a number of ways, including:
Read Polly Toynbee calling on Gabriele Finaldi to intervene now to cancel the privatisation plans.
In a cynical attempt to intimidate PCS members working in the National Gallery, management initially suspended and have now dismissed Candy Udwin, a key local PCS representative in the gallery.
The unjustifiable suspension of Candy has already attracted widespread public and media attention, and the group office has received both messages of support and financial donations from members of the public as well as from PCS members, which have been passed to the campaign's hardship fund.
PCS is urging people to sign a statement to reinstate Candy which has already been signed by thousands of supporters. As part of the campaign we are also asking people to upload photographs to Twitter, holding #ReinstateCandy posters, which you can download and use. These are then being added to a photostream on Facebook.