Union to oppose National Gallery privatisation plan - Museums Association

Union to oppose National Gallery privatisation plan

London gallery wants to contract-out visitor services and security
Profile image for Simon Stephens
Simon Stephens
London’s National Gallery is facing union opposition to its plan to privatise its security and visitor services.

The National Gallery revealed last week that it wanted to find a company to manage security, visitor services and visitor engagement (about 400 people are employed in these areas). The gallery said it wants more “more flexibility to meet the changing expectations of our visitors in an environment where our income is decreasing”.

But the PCS union, which represents about 180 National Gallery staff, said it will mount a "vigorous and visible campaign" against plans to privatise all visitor services at one of the UK's most important cultural attractions.

PCS said a recent privatisation at the Imperial War Museums (IWM) is “leading to a knowledge drain as experienced staff leave, and an increased use of zero-hours contracts and more unstable working”.

A National Gallery statement said: “In the event that the National Gallery does sign a contract with a supplier, TUPE [Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment] will apply in order to protect the terms, conditions and interests of any staff who transfer to the new supplier. This is a transfer process and there will be no redundancies as a result of this undertaking.”

PCS represents staff, many of them working in visitor services, at a number of UK museums, including the British Museum, IWM, National Gallery, Tate, National Museums Liverpool, National Galleries of Scotland and National Museums Scotland.

The National Gallery announcement comes before a walkout by up to a million public sector workers, including members of PCS, planned for 10 July.

The National Gallery announced last month that its director, Nicholas Penny, is to retire in 2015.

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