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Tate strike: "Coronavirus - no reason to fire us!"
Striking Tate workers in the PCS union chanted "Coronavirus - no reason to fire us!" on their strike protests as they moved into indefinite action. As visitors have queued to get into the Tate Britain and Modern galleries in London, they've noticed a far more realistic exhibition of the reality facing workers than any of the art showings inside.
To many, Tate has an almost progressive image, carefully cultivated by the management team. But as with many others in the culture sector over the last few years, this is a fallacy. Like the 'independent' Picturehouse cinemas and the National Gallery, workers have found that the management regime feels just like any other company, with brutal bosses meting out redundancies and attacks on pay and conditions.
Tate workers are facing 313 redundancies as management blame falling customer numbers because of Covid-19. But they are in line to receive a £7 million bailout from the government. The growing lines of visitors after Tate reopened shows how short-sighted this is.
But despite these pleadings of hardship, PCS now reports that management have been pressuring workers to cover the jobs of strikers, and have even looked to employ assistant visitor jobs through the outsourced contract with Securitas. This shows that money is no object to trying to break a strike.
In an indication of management vindictiveness, workers were kept waiting, only emailed at 11.30pm on a bank holiday Friday, to find out whether they even still had jobs!
There needs to be a fight for the money to keep what are often low-paid workers in a job. And, if necessary, the galleries should be taken into public ownership to be run in the interests of the workers and the majority of society.
The strikers are determined to force management back. They have held tremendous strike rallies, addressed by Rob Williams from the National Shop Stewards Network alongside Jeremy Corbyn and many other supporters. This solidarity needs to be stepped up now as the action is cranked up.
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