PCS members at the Tate are being balloted for strike action as its commercial subsidiary plans to go ahead with over 200 redundancies, despite receiving £7 million in additional grant in aid from the government.
Tate Enterprises, which operates retail, catering and publishing services across the 4 Tate galleries in London, Liverpool and St Ives, notified staff in mid-June of restructuring plans aimed at saving £1 million this financial year. It is pressing ahead with the plans despite receiving an additional £7m from the government in additional grant in aid, which followed the government’s announcement of £1.57 billion funding for the culture sector, meaning it will need to use far less of its unrestricted cash reserves than it thought it would have to.
We have requested that Tate invests just 10% of that additional money to save as many jobs as possible across Tate Enterprises, making up about 70% of the money it is looking to save through redundancies.
Tate has confirmed it will not invest any of this additional money into Tate Enterprises and that the redundancies, which do not affect Tate’s gallery staff, will proceed as planned. Our members, the vast majority of whom are retail staff on part-time or casual contracts, were understandably angered by this decision and we launched a consultative ballot last Friday (10). By Monday (13), 99% of members, some of whom will be expected to return to work when the galleries reopen on 27 July, had voted, with 93% in favour of taking strike action, unless additional money is invested to save their jobs.
We informed Tate of the result on Monday, however its position remains unchanged. As a result yesterday (15) we issued formal notice of a statutory ballot, with members expressing in huge numbers their willingness to fight for their jobs.
Tate Enterprises’ collective consultation of these staff is underway until 6 August and the ballot, which asks PCS members if they support strike action, runs from 22 July to 3 August.
We will continue to fight throughout the ballot process for Tate to change its position, through the formal consultation, as well as protests and press and political coverage.