Dulwich Picture Gallery assistants to hold protest against job cuts

Dulwich Picture Gallery. Credit: Julian Osley

By Sophie McIntyre 

A group of gallery assistants have organised a protest against proposed job cuts at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

The group, who are also members of Unite union, are holding the protest on February 7, 1pm, at the gallery.

On Sunday the group tweeted: “We protect the art, HELP US protect our jobs.”

Dulwich Picture Gallery houses one of the most influential collections of old master paintings in the UK and was the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery.

The protest is part of a campaign which includes a Twitter feed, Tumblr and Facebook pages and an online petition.

The campaign says the gallery plans to make over half of the visitor services team redundant. The redundancies would include 19 front of house staff members.

In addition, both remaining staff members and the new apprentices and casual staff, who will be brought in to fill the staffing gap, will be put on annualised hours contracts.

These remove overtime rates and reduce controls over the hours worked by staff.

The gallery assistants said: “We believe the proposed redundancies are unjustified and unfair, and that they will ultimately jeopardise and damage the relationship we have developed with our customers throughout the years.

“We are united in our intention to fight the proposed cuts and ask for your support and solidarity”.

Dulwich Picture Gallery says that the changes to visitor services would ensure that the gallery is able cater for varying visitor numbers and flexible opening times.

The gallery said: ‘The proposals aim to employ an appropriate number of gallery assistants to meet our regular needs on fair and equitable contracts with the flexibility to adjust as those needs change.

“They will also ensure the Gallery operates effectively and reduces its costs while delivering first class service to the visiting public.

“It will eliminate current discrepancies between contracts across the team, including ‘zero hour’ contracts, and by employing more staff on regular contracts it will reduce the need for casual staff.”