Staff at the National Gallery in London have begun voting in a ballot that could lead to extended periods of industrial action by members of the Public and Commercial Services Union.
The union is opposed to plans to privatise almost all staff, including those who look after corporate events.
Private security company CIS was brought in last autumn to staff the gallery’s Rembrandt exhibition.
The union claims that the firm has been handed security work in the gallery’s Sainsbury wing, without any tender or consultation.
A Yes vote in the ballot, closing on 23 January, is likely to lead to the union announcing several days of consecutive strike action in February.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This reckless sell-off plan risks damaging the worldwide reputation of what is one of the UK’s greatest cultural assets, and we are determined to stop it."
A spokeswoman for the National Gallery told CN: “The events department is continuing to take bookings in February because we don’t know if there will be a strike or when it will take place. However, we do have robust contingency plans to ensure events can go ahead if strike action should be taken. We have never been unable to deliver an event due to strike action, and we have always done this using our own National Gallery staff who are happy to support events. It is worth noting that many of our staff who are union members do not always chose to strike."
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