National Gallery staff vote massively for strikes over sell-off

26 Jan 2015 03:02 PM

Workers at the National Gallery have voted overwhelmingly to strike over plans to hand all visitor services to a private company, the Public and Commercial Services union announces.

In a ballot that closed recently, 94% voted for strikes on a 62% turnout. The decision means extended periods of industrial action are now likely if senior managers press ahead.

Gallery bosses announced plans last year to privatise almost all staff, including those who look after the paintings and help the gallery's six million annual visitors.

They have also reneged on a promise to introduce the London living wage, meaning the institution is the only major museum or gallery in the capital that does not pay it.

From this week, private security firm CIS has taken over the whole of the Sainsbury wing – which houses masterpieces by Raphael, Botticelli and Fra Angelico – for the rest of this year without any competitive tender or consultation.

The company was brought in to cover the gallery's Rembrandt exhibition last autumn. Its promotional brochure advertises its services as guarding empty buildings, door security and CCTV monitoring.