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Minister of Culture has prevented a strike at the National Gallery

11 October 2012 / 18:10:44  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Culture Minister Costas Tzavaras thwarted at the last minute the intention of the National Gallery’s keepers to close it over the coming weekend.
They decided to go on strike to demand the payment of allowances for working during the weekends and during the holidays. As they indicate, the amounts due date back to 2010.
The Greek union of keepers of antiquities has warned that if the issue is not settled, the keepers at the National Gallery can announce an indefinite strike.
GRReporter contacted the chairman of the trade union Yiannis Mavrikopoulos.
"You should be aware that the keepers of antiquities work 365 days a year. Moreover, we work one day more during the week than any other public workers do. We receive additional pay for this day. That's exactly the problem with the National Gallery. The colleagues have not received this payment for this year. In addition, the payment for Sundays and public holidays in 2010 has been also delayed."
He said that the National Gallery is the only cultural site where the employees have not been paid for overtime. "The management of the Gallery is entirely responsible for this. The Minister of Culture worked hard to solve the problem by sending a number of signals to director Marina Lambraki - Plaka. However, there has been no response to them so far."
According to Yiannis Mavrikopoulos, there is money. "It is just that the administration of the National Gallery does not pay the due attention to this issue. Processing the documents for the work at weekends is bureaucratic and time-consuming. This does not mean that they can delay the payment of money for months. We, who guard museums and other cultural sites, are paid for overtime approximately 20 days after the previous month. This is the time the administration needs to calculate and confirm the amount. The system in the National Gallery is decayed. Director Lambraki-Plaka does not deal with this issue and it is at the expense of employees."
He said that the upcoming closure of the Gallery would not be the first. "It was closed in June the previous time. We had informed the management of the National Gallery that it should solve the problem quickly. We decided not to create problems in the summer and worked normally without any protests. However, they ignored our positive attitude and did nothing about it. This broke the camel’s back and now, there is no other option but to protest."
The employees met yesterday with representatives of the management of the Gallery, who promised to solve the problem of payment. But the keepers say they do not believe hollow promises, which were made in the past to no avail.
They state that their strike will not have negative consequences for the exhibits at the National Gallery, as there are always personnel on duty during these protests.

The last remark was very important, given that only a few months ago, thieves of works of art managed to steal three paintings from the National Gallery. One of them is by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, who had donated it to Greece and affixed his personal dedication to the back. The investigation of the case continues without any result so far.
The trade union cancelled the strike after the Minister arranged the payment of allowances for the "6th day of the week." The keepers have been assured that they will soon receive the delayed payments.


Tags: CultureArtsNational GalleryStrikeKeepersAllowancesPicasso
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