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Tate staff strike for art jobs

Tate Gallery staff who are striking for jobs and the arts need our support

by Floyd Codlin

Photo: Floyd Codlin

After 5 days of strike action PCS members at Tate Commerce are now on indefinite strike having been balloted and have carried out several socially distanced and masked protests and strike days over July-September. They have gained support from the public, actors, and trade union activists. The effort to save 313 jobs at Tate Enterprises has also attracted support from Turner Prize winners and former opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, and John McDonnell, and Nadia Whitome.

The strike has three main objectives: that 10% of the anticipated £7 million in government bailout money is used to save jobs; that there should be no redundancies while some senior Tate staff are paid more than £100,000 a year; and that, if government money proves insufficient to save jobs, Tate should join the UK’s Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in calling for more.

Photo: Floyd Codlin

The ten recipients of this year’s £10,000 Turner Prize Bursaries have issued an open letter expressing solidarity with the PCS Tate members.

The letter adds that those under threat of redundancy are some of Tate’s ‘lowest paid, most precarious and most disadvantaged members of staff’ with BAME staff is disproportionately affected.

As trade unionists and as socialists, we should oppose the job losses for these reasons.

(1) The sum total amounts to over 1,000 job losses when you take into account the Historic Royal Palaces, the South Bank and the National Theatre

(2) Despite the pro-forma of support for BLM, the directors of these institutions have sought to make BAME/POC pay the bill while holding onto the bailout money. 

(3) That we reject the idea that staff are regarded, as mere economic units that can be picked up and put down, if not thrown off the board at will.

Photo: Floyd Codlin

As workers and as citizens we make the demand that a crisis in the arts should not be paid for with our jobs or that of our colleagues. Indeed, to quote the second paragraph of the American constitution “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

Floyd Codlin (member of the Associated and Retired Members of the Public and Commercial Service Union (PCS) and the Group Executive Committee of PCS Culture (personal capacity))

Photo: Floyd Codlin

This article first appeared in Counterfire. Reproduced with the author's permission

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