PCS has accused private firm Securitas of bullying National Gallery staff into accepting voluntary exit packages or drastic changes to their working conditions.
Gallery assistants employed by private firm, Securitas, received voluntary exit offers yesterday (Wednesday 19) and were given until tomorrow (Friday 21) to decide whether to leave their employment or to continue under proposed changes that could drastically change their working conditions.
One of the changes Securitas is seeking to introduce is a mobility clause that would mean gallery staff could be forced to work across other culture and entertainment sites across London. This could potentially mean gallery assistants being sent to work at venues such as The O2 or Wembley.
Securitas has given our union less than a month to consult on changes which also include:
- proposed changes to working patterns to a 6 day on 3 day off rota (from a current 5/2)
- the changing of gallery assistant roles to ‘protective security officer’ removing all chairs,
- making all staff patrol larger areas of the gallery meaning fewer staff and increasing the risk to our national art collection
The union views the changes as being in breach of a framework agreement agreed between PCS, Securitas and the National Gallery when staff were transferred to the private company four years ago.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “I have written to Securitas to reject their proposed changes subject to an improved offer and to insist on postponing the deadline for voluntary exits. It is unacceptable for our members to be bullied into making potentially life changing decisions in little more than 48 hours.
“Millions of visitors every year benefit from our members’ knowledge of the collection. We are concerned about the impact on the gallery that these cutbacks will have. It is plainly wrong for gallery assistants to have their roles changed and to be forced to work at other sites such as The O2.”
When the gallery decided to privatise much of its visitor and security services in 2015, PCS members fought hard against the privatisation with more than 100 days of strike action. This ended with a framework agreement being reached with Securitas and the National Gallery that protected rotas and shift patterns, provided a chair for all staff to ensure the gallery was an accessible place to work, and the reinstatement of a PCS representative.
The Securitas contract, worth £40m over five years, has now been extended for another 5 years until 2024.