29 July 2015
General secretary Mark Serwotka has written to outgoing gallery director Dr Nicholas Penny and to his successor Dr Gabriele Finaldi, notifying them of the escalation of industrial action throughout August unless management will agree to take part in talks at ACAS to reach a negotiated settlement in the dispute over privatisation of visitor services.
Visitors to the National Gallery have been severely affected by the 52 days of strike action taken so far, and this next period of strike action, starting with four days on 4, 5, 6 and 12 August, is set to continue this disruption over the peak summer holiday period.
The dispute became more tense after lead rep Candy Udwin was suspended and then sacked. She is awaiting a new date for her appeal hearing with gallery management after the previous hearing was adjourned. Earlier an employment tribunal interim relief judgement ruled that it was likely she had been unfairly dismissed for trade union activities.
Support for an alternative
PCS has proposed ways of avoiding the privatisation and outgoing director, Dr Penny, who retires next month, has publically stated that he believes that National Gallery staff should remain in-house, telling the Daily Telegraph that he would “very much prefer to keep all the gallery assistants as part of the gallery,” adding: "If they're not, they don't feel part of the institution in the same way." [12 July 2015].
Mark Serwotka said: “Our members in the National Gallery have been engaged in a heroic struggle to defend the functions of a national institution. They have taken 52 days strike action so far and are prepared to take more. Accordingly, we have served the employer with notice today of more sustained action in August.
“This dispute is not going to quietly disappear, and we call again on the employer to engage seriously with us to find a resolution.”
How you can help