The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has called for a five day strike from Tuesday 3 to Saturday 7 February. Members at the Gallery had voted for industrial action after management proposed to externalise the staff who are the public face of the gallery - namely c.400 staff who provide security, visitor services and visitor engagement.
Union members are also protesting planned cuts in gallery assistants at Dulwich Picture Gallery (see below)
This post is about why cuts in expenditure are being made, what action staff are taking - and what I think about the proposals. I'm interested to know what you think - do please leave a comment at the end.
Context for the Cuts
The continued stranglehold on public sector expenditure caused by the bankers' exploits pre-2008 and the need to exert control over the economy continues to create a very tight grip of public expenditure.
This in turn means that all public service organisations in the UK are looking for cuts to enable them to continue to provide a service within current funding constraints.
The Gallery continues to face significant and sustained cuts to grant-in-aid over the coming years National Gallery - FinanceThe National Gallery's perspective is that it wants more
“more flexibility to meet the changing expectations of our visitors in an environment where our income is decreasing”.Frankly, my perspective is that I find it very odd that:
- on the one hand the Galleries have to go cap in hand to the banks for sponsorship monies which help them provide an effective service and ace exhibitions
- at the same time as their grant-in-aid is being limited by a government still trying to control an economy lacerated by the very stupid actions of some of the banks prior to 2008!
It's not an easy situation for any manager, however as an ex-senior manager in public service I well understand the need to make changes which seek to preserve the outcomes (ie the service offered) as opposed to the means (ie the out-dated terms and conditions of existing staff).
National Gallery and the PCS union
|The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square|
The National Gallery is an interesting case. So far as I am aware:
- The PCS Union has had a long-running battle with the Gallery's management for years and years in relation to the terms and conditions of staff who are members of the PCS
- The PCS is totally inflexible to negotiation about making changes for modern practices.