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Arts: National Gallery strike

Staff at the National Gallery in London held a 24-hour strike on 15 October, the opening day of the blockbuster Rembrandt exhibition. 

But the main purpose was to draw attention to the low pay of gallery and museum staff working in the public sector, and to the proposed contracting out of information, ticketing and security to companies such as G4S and Serco.

Galleries have had their funding cut, yet the number of visitors has increased - 6 million a year at the gallery. They are forced to diversify into retail and other commercial activities, rather than investing in the cultural core of their work.

The PCS union says 400 out of 600 jobs there are due to go or be replaced; management says it needs more “flexibility” – in other words, a lower wages bill and less trade union scrutiny.

Under pressure, management has agreed to new talks, though an agreement may be several months away.