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Staff ends strike at London's National Gallery

A protracted strike by hundreds of staff at London's National Gallery over the outsourcing of some services to the private sector ended Friday, their union said, AFP reports.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union have staged more than 100 days of action since February after plans were revealed for privatising some services, which the gallery said would allow it to "operate more flexibly and deliver an enhanced service".

The union said Friday that members had voted unanimously to return to work after an agreement was reached.

"We are... pleased to have reached an agreement with the gallery and contractor Securitas that would mean protection of terms and conditions," said a statement.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka added: "We still do not believe privatisation was necessary but we will work with the new company and the gallery to ensure a smooth transition and, importantly, to ensure standards are maintained at this world-renowned institution."

The museum is London's second most popular tourist attraction, drawing around six million visitors per year.

It stayed open during the strike, although some rooms were closed and many educational workshops cancelled.

Gabriele Finaldi, the museum's new director, announced in late July that he had signed a five-year contract with the private company Securitas to look after reception and security, covering around 300 current positions.

The gallery's imposing building overlooks Trafalgar Square in the heart of London and its impressive permanent collection of paintings from the 13th to 19th centuries is open to view without charge for 361 days a year.


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