Privatization has added to the burden of public museum workers. “When visitor services at the Imperial War Museum were privatized in 2014 we warned that handing them to a security firm with no museum experience would be a mistake. The company, Shield, has now gone bust and staff are still waiting for outstanding pension contributions. In the relatively short time the firm was in charge, our representatives raised numerous concerns about health and safety on HMS Belfast and security issues at the main Lambeth site.
“At the National Gallery, where outsourcing of visitor services to Securitas triggered a high-profile dispute last year, workers wince at press reports that director Gabriele Finaldi thinks the privatization is “working rather well”. This is not the experience of staff who have been engaged in a six-month battle just to have seats provided during exhibitions and are still waiting for the commitment to pay them the living wage to be finalized. The same company has recently won a lucrative contract to supply zero-hour staff at the Tate and is trying to deny workers their collective trade union rights as part of our recognition agreement.”