Scottish Gallery staff will strike next month

Scottish
Gallery staff are to strike over pay and weekend working.

Industrial
action next month will be targeted to affect the Edinburgh Festival and will
close the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Gallery for
Modern Art and the Dean Gallery on Sundays.

A
staff overtime ban is to be introduced next weekend and it will be compulsory
for new staff to work on Sundays. The union is opposed to this and also wants
premium weekend working rates restored.

Albie
O’Neill, PCS Negotiations Officer, said: "In 1997 the National Galleries
of Scotland unilaterally changed the pay for new staff so that they would not
receive anything extra for working on a Saturday. Since that date we have
argued for the reinstatement of the original terms. We have also sought decent
basic pay levels for all staff but in particular for the lowest paid.

"The
management’s offer, while in some ways addressing the key issues, does not go
far enough and is conditional upon acceptance of compulsory Sunday working.
This week Robin Cook condemned a private company for forcing their staff to
work on a Sunday, yet here we have public employees facing the same requirement
in order to get a less than satisfactory pay settlement.

"While
15.4 per cent is to be made available over the next three years, this is
nowhere near enough to give our members a decent standard of living and proper
compensation for weekend working. Over the last 18 months other government
workers have seen bigger increases without the same conditions applying."

Almost
nine out of 10 of the PCS union’s 120 members across the four Scottish gallery,
ranging from security, gallery attendants, retail, cleaning and administration,
voted to strike.

By Paul Nelson

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