Leonardo At The National Gallery Threatened By Strike Action
It’s been one of the biggest art shows in living memory, but this week people will be walking out of Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan at the National Gallery in London as staff meant to be guarding it go on strike.
In a response to changes that have seen warders made responsible for guarding two rooms at once – rather than one at a time – PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) members will stage a walk out between 1pm and 3pm or 4pm to 6pm on 19 and 28 January and the 2 and 4 February, leaving the high-profile exhibition vulnerable.
A spokeswoman for the gallery told the Guardian: “The National Gallery will endeavour to keep the exhibition open and fulfill its obligation to people who already have tickets for that day."
The National Gallery, which has faced a 15% reduction to its budget since government cuts made in October 2010, has defended the change, claiming that most galleries in the UK and abroad make the same demands on their staff.
The PCS held an indicative ballot in November in which it claimed almost 180 members voted 80% in favour of strike action. Gallery assistant believe the security cuts will leave The National Gallery’s treasured masterpieces open to the risk of damage or theft.
The strikes follow similar action in February 2010 when employees of The National Gallery campaigned just outside the gallery’s entrance in Trafalgar Square over complaints of low pay, leading to the closure of five of its 66 exhibition rooms.
This week’s strikes are one of three separate jobs and pensions disputes set to hit Britain. Consumer good company Unilever and tax offices up and down the country will also be targeted by strike action.