National Gallery wardens strike as Velázquez exhibition opens

140 wardens at the National Gallery, London, are on strike today over changes to their holiday entitlement.

Submitted by Mike Harman on October 18, 2006

Managers at the National Gallery are attempting to replace Christmas entitlement with a one-off payment of £100, and unpaid "special leave". This would mean withdrawing the three days holiday they receive in exchange for working Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day and replacing this with two days unpaid leave.

The Velásquez exhibition, opening today, has sold more than 13,000 tickets in advance. Managers at the gallery are keeping the £12/ticket exhibition open, whilst closing free entry areas off to the public. Workers at the gallery are some of the lowest paid in the media sector according to their union, PCS, earning as little as £13,562 per year, or just over £6/hour.

The workers are on strike for 24-hours today, and will be walking out between 6-9pm every Wednesday from next week onwards.