Everybody Out! (ctd.)

September 24 2015

Video: PCS Union

Today is a 'Day of Action' over the strikes at the National Gallery. There will be rallies and speeches at Trafalgar Square in support of the strikers. As of yesterday, the strike has now been going for 100 days.

It's worth watching the video above, by Candy Udwin, who has become the face of the strike. She's an effective campaigner, and evidently committed to her cause. I still can't decide if she was faily dismissed or not. On the evidence made available so far, probably not.

But what is 'the cause'? Watch the video, and you'll see that it is about something far wider than pay and conditions at the National Gallery. For as Udwin makes clear, the strike has now become a hard-left/union battle against the Conservative government. The strike, Udwin says, is to fight a supposed Tory agenda on 'privatisation' and 'the cuts'. It is no longer anything to do with working conditions at the National Gallery. Staff have been given a pay rise, which meets the London living wage. 

In other words, large parts of the National Gallery have been closed, countless school trips have been cancelled, millions of visitors have been disappointed, revenue has been lost, curators have been unable to do their work, and a much-loved institution has been turned into a political football, all because a hard-core group of staff members have decided that they want the Gallery to work for them, to their rules, and nobody else. For the strike agitators, the trustees of the National Gallery are not allowed to run the gallery as they see fit. Instead, the trustees have to abide by the ideology of the strikers. The strike has become an utterly selfish, destructive cause.

And surely it is a tragedy that, in order to show some sort of misguided political 'solidarity' with those most enthusiastic for a political confrontation, many workers at the National Gallery have now reluctantly had to go without pay for over 100 days.

The National Gallery is in fact mostly open for business, despite the 'all-out strike'. The Securitas contract has been signed, and soon comes into effect. The new Director would be mad to capitulate now, and won't. The strikers cannot win. Enough of this nonsense, please. 

Update - the PCS Union are handing out leaflets asking visitors to boycott the Gallery, and 'go to another London museum'.

Update II - it's interesting to see how prominently the 'Reinstate Candy' message is being pushed by the Union. It's as prominent as the 'No Privatisation' message. So, while it's odd that all this is coming down to one individual, I suspect that in a few weeks time, Candy Udwin will get her job back, the Securitas arrangement will begin, and all this will be over. A victory for both sides. And gallery visitors the losers.

Update III - a pretty thin turnout, judging from the photos.

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