Strike Partially Closes National Gallery

The front of house staff of London’s National Gallery will go on strike for a period of five days, starting on the 3rd of February.

The strike is the result of a private ballot issued by the union PCS in response to plans to privatize the National Gallery’s visitors’ services (see Staffing Crisis at London’s National Gallery).

A statement from PCS said members had voted by a margin of more than nine to one for a strike. “This five-day walkout will put the National Gallery in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons,” said PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka. “The sell-off plan is reckless and risks damaging the worldwide reputation of what is one of the UK’s greatest cultural assets, and we are determined to stop it,” he continued.

According to the BBC, the National Gallery has claimed to be “disappointed” by the strike vote, which involves 250 workers. The London museum has claimed repeatedly that the proposed changes are necessary due to funding cuts, and that the privatization scheme would not entail job losses.

Although negotiations between the museum’s management and its workers have taken place in the last few months, an agreement has not been reached between both parties.

The National Gallery, which welcomes six million visitors a year, is expected to remain open during the strike next week, although a press officer told artnet News that it has not yet been decided which rooms will be open and which ones will be closed. All educational programming will reportedly be canceled during the strike.

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