PCS/Andrew Aitchson

Nationwide strike hits museums

Simon Stephens, 15.10.2014
PCS union action over pay closes some sites, while other museums forced to shut galleries
Museums all over the UK are being disrupted by today’s strike by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union over pay.

PCS is organising a specific protest outside London's National Gallery over plans to privatise visitor services.

This will coincide with the public opening of the Rembrandt exhibition and follows yesterday’s protest at the press view of the show by pressure group’s BP or not BP?, which opposes energy group’s Shell’s sponsorship of the exhibition.

The National Gallery says that the Rembrandt exhibition remains open, while 16 of its 66 gallery rooms are open.

A number of other museums are having to close sites entirely or shut certain galleries because of the strike. The museums affected by the strike are keen to emphasise that it is a dispute between the union and government.

The British Museum says some of areas of its building may be closed. Its website says: “The industrial action is directed at government-initiated reforms of terms and conditions and is not a result of museum policy.”

The Tate website says: "This is a general action across the civil service against central government policy some of which applies to Tate due to our status as a non-departmental public body. Tate is not directly engaged in a dispute with any of the trade unions about any of the issues which they are taking action."

All galleries will be closed at Tate Liverpool, while some may be closed at Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London.

National Museums Liverpool’s seven sites are shut today. All National Museum Wales sites, with the exception of the National Roman Legion Museum, are closed.

A statement from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, says: "A small number of galleries are shut as a result of the PCS strike action, but the majority of the museum and all the exhibitions are open as usual."

Other museums with large numbers of PCS union members include the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Museum of Scotland.


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