The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, one of the UK’s most visited tourist destination will decide today whether or not they will continue industrial action ahead of its new director Gabriele Finaldi taking up his position, replacing Sir Nicholas Penny. The museum is striking over the hiring of a private security firm to manage visitor services, in its plans for partial privatisation.
The PCS is the biggest union in the Gallery, representing more than 200 gallery assistants (‘warders’) and other staff. PCS in National Gallery is a very well-organised and active branch, as well as an important part of PCS’s CMSOA (Culture, Media and Sport Occupational Association) which coordinates PCS activity across the sector. The gallery said in a statement, “Securitas has a proven track record in security and visitor engagement roles in the arts and cultural sector globally.” A union spokesman at the PCS, said, “the appointment of Securitas would affect around 400 people working in front-of-house, ticket sales and security”.
Action also closed the National Slate Museum in Llanberis (12 August) where 6 pickets carried out public leafletting and asked visitors to sign a petition. And there were limited services at the National Museum in Cathays Park, Cardiff, with a number of galleries shut. There was solid support for the action with approximately 75-80% of members taking part. There was a small picket of 8 people. There was strong public support during leafletting and petitioning and reps raised more than £130 towards the branch hardship fund at an evening political event.
Strikers also closed the National Wool Museum in Drefach Felindre and the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. There were also limited services at St Fagans National History Museum in Cardiff, where there was a picket with more than 20 people leafletting, gaining signatures and collecting for the hardship fund.