Tate asks employees to contribute to boat for Director

Tate asks employees to contribute to boat for Director

The Tate is feeling the wrath of their staff base, after asking employees to help pay for a boat for their departing Director, Nicholas Serota.

A notice left in the staff room asked all employees to “put money towards a sailing boat” as a “surprise gift” for Serota – The Guardian reports.

The poster read: “Nick loves sailing and this would be a lasting and very special reminder of the high regard which I know so many of us have for Nick and his contribution to Tate.”

The memo has caused something of a ruckus, after the institution is currently facing allegations of outsourcing, as well as low pay disputes and the end of staff discount in the canteen. The gallery sources a large amount of its staff trough Securitas, a firm which doesn’t pay the London living wage – they actually pay the workers less than those hired directly by Tate for the same jobs.

Tracy Edwards, the PCS union representative for Tate staff, told The Guardian: “The staff at Tate are underpaid and overworked, and haven’t had appropriate pay rises, and this just demonstrates how divorced from reality the management at Tate are. It seems to me they’ve made a big error of judgment.

“Our members are on zero-hours contracts, they are struggling to pay the bills each month, so to ask them to donate towards a boat – well, I can tell you the staff are not happy at all. It’s really rubbed people up the wrong way.”

Speaking to the publication, an unnamed employee described the moment staff found the note: “There was a mixture of shock and laughter,” he said. “The chasm that exists between upper management and the staff on the ground is just farcical and this just made it clearer than ever. For us, Serota’s legacy among staff is one of privatisation and union busting.”

Another added: “We’ve had to fight for equal pay, to be recognised by our union, which now we have to do again due to the change of company who employ us, so it just left me speechless when I saw that poster. The insensitivity is just a cold, hard slap in the face.”

Tate told The Guardian that the staff had “no obligation for any staff to give towards a leaving gift. However, they can if they wish.”


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