Tate strike suspended as ‘improved offer’ is finalised
A 42-day strike of workers at Tate’s commercial arm over redundancies has been suspended as the gallery and trade union finalise a deal.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) says it has negotiated an improved offer including more money for redundancy payments and an amended re-employment policy.
The strike was protesting plans to cut more than 300 jobs at Tate Enterprises, which runs catering, retail, corporate events and publishing across Tate’s four galleries.
PCS said: “This decision comes after several meetings with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service where we managed to secure several improvements for members in a revised offer from Tate Enterprises management.”
The details of the offer are still being negotiated, but PCS said the key elements include “an improved re-employment and re-deployment policy across Tate Enterprises”.
Other features include an agreement for preferential recruitment for vacancies across its sites, and an “additional significant investment” in redundancy payments for staff at Tate Commerce, which manages retail and publishing.
Staff at Tate Eats, the catering part of Tate Enterprises, are not represented by PCS. Last month the union wrote an open letter to Tate management accusing the organisation of undermining strike action by offering retail shifts to staff from Tate Eats without “acknowledging that this is to cover striking workers”. Tate denied using strike-breaking tactics.
PCS said: “We are clear that the cuts across the arts and culture sector are a result of the direct failure of government. The headline £1.57bn investment is targeted to protect brands and buildings and not the workers who make ours the vibrant world beating sector that it is.
"We, along with our sister unions, continue to fight for the future of our sector demanding the government fund our arts and culture institutions fairly, on behalf of workers and the public.
“We continue to oppose redundancies and fight for our members across the culture sector.”
Tate confirmed that the strike had been suspended “pending final approval of an offer which is currently being negotiated between Tate Commerce and the PCS Union”.
In an interview with the BBC’s Desert Island Discs in August, Tate director Maria Balshaw said the organisation was “facing 50% fewer visitors coming to our galleries for probably quite a long time”.
She said “sadly at the moment the trading business is too big, because we won’t be able to open all the cafes and shops in the same way”.
When the strike was announced, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said it “cannot be right” for Tate to cut hundreds of jobs while receiving millions of pounds of government support.
According to the Museums Association’s redundancy tracker, about 3,000 redundancies have been announced across the sector so far. These include 1,200 at the National Trust and about 400 at Southbank Centre.
More recently, the Victoria and Albert Museum and National Museums Liverpool each announced plans to cut about 100 jobs.