Gallery staff time strike to coincide with summer exhibitions

Scottish
Gallery staff are timing strikes to hit summer exhibition launches.

Members
of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) at the National Galleries of
Scotland (NGS) have announced a one-day strike on July 5, which will hit the
launch of the major summer exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in
Edinburgh.

The
union said the action will go ahead if talks with management on July 1 fail to
reach what it calls a "a satisfactory conclusion".

The
press preview and private viewing of New: Recent Acquisitions of British
Contemporary Art is scheduled for July 5, and is due to be attended by artists,
benefactors, sponsors and VIPs.

PCS
members have been refusing to work overtime since April, which led to the
closure of all four Edinburgh Galleries on Sundays. The strike action on July 5
will also see other galleries closed on that day.

Albie
O’Neill, PCS Negotiations Officer, said: "This situation has dragged on
for far too long. PCS members earning as little as £4.26 an hour have been
waiting for a pay rise since August last year and are not prepared to wait any
longer. The action is being announcing ahead of Monday’s talks because we are
required by law to give seven days’ notice of strike action.

"If
good progress is made on Monday  we
would of course suspend the action. We have said all along that we do not want
our dispute to affect the public, which is why we have chosen a date when the
Gallery of Modern Art is already closed to the public.

"Management
of Scottish Galleries are more concerned about exhibitions and expansion than
looking after its low-paid workers. Plans for the Playfair Project are well
advanced with almost £20m of public funding having been secured but there is
still no provision for staff costs. NGS should start to concentrate their
energies on the needs of low-paid staff who are expected to be there seven days
a week for a meagre wage."

By Quentin Reade

Comments are closed.