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National gallery staff to hold 10-day strike over privatisation

Staff at a London's National Gallery are to begin 10-days of striking in the latest escalation of a long-running dispute over privatisation. Members of the Public and Commercial Services union at the National Gallery will walk out for 10 days from the start of the half-term holidays on Tuesday.

A striking PCS worker pictured outside the National Gallery on May 1. Credit: PA

There have been 24 days of strikes since February over plans to privatise services but this will be the longest period of action so far. The dispute worsened when union rep Candy Udwin was suspended before the first strike and subsequently sacked.

Labour MP John McDonnell plans to raise her dismissal, and the privatisation, in the Commons. A rally will be held in Trafalgar Square - close to the National Gallery - on May 30.

This privatisation plan is totally unnecessary and is damaging the well-earned reputation of the gallery and the sacking of our representative, Candy, is a disgraceful attack on our union. Our demonstration is not just about this sell-off and the victimisation of Candy, it is an opportunity to oppose the kind of Tory cuts being cited as a rationale to hive off staff to the private sector.

– PCS Mark Serwotka

Thousands of school-children have had visits to the gallery cancelled because of the industrial action.