Many UK museums, galleries and heritage sites could be affected today and tomorrow as industrial action from the PCS union, the UK’s largest civil service union strike as part of a three-month campaign of industrial action. This has been prompted by a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and pensions. The National Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern will open their doors as usual at 10 am this morning, but access to some galleries could be limited. Tate Liverpool’s galleries will be completely closed. Tomorrow (Friday),The National and National Portrait Galleries could have some of their rooms closed. More stoppages are expected as the result of walkouts planned by the Public and Commercial Services union. Workers at the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum in London are expected to participate in this current acrion. Strikers and supporters have threatened to form a human chain around the Museum of Liverpool, Pier Head, Liverpool L3 1DG, from 2.30pm on Friday to represent “a defence of culture and the arts from government cuts”.
English Heritage sites, including Stonehenge in Wiltshire, will take part in the action on Sunday. “These strikes highlight the huge gap between the valuable work our members do and the contempt being shown to them by ministers who are imposing cuts and refusing to even talk to us,” said PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, to the BBC. “Both in our cultural attractions that are known and loved around the world and across the civil service, the government urgently needs to invest to improve services to the public and to help our economy to grow.”
Last October Cleaners and maintenance workers at the British Museum staged a strike, highlighting a number of grievances. The union members at London’s most popular museum are worried that their positions will be out-sourced to a third party company. The staff also voted to go on strike over fears about pay and conditions. PCS and Unite unions said, “They fear their pay and conditions will be cut”. The two unions, representing the workers, believe senior managers planned major changes to staffing.