Tate Modern: Cleaners storm London gallery in pay row with 'millionaire' firm behind new Picasso show

A group of cleaners stormed the Tate Modern gallery to demonstrate against their investment firm employer – a sponsor of a recently opened Picasso exhibition. 

Workers from the Ernst & Young (EY) investment firm – based in London, with sites in London Bridge and Canada Water – began demonstrating at the gallery on Saturday evening. 

EY is currently the main sponsor for the ‘Picasso: 1932’ exhibition, which runs until September. Security staff at the Tate were quoted as saying they had “never seen anything like this” as the demonstrators set up camp. 

Members of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), told the Standard they were protesting an ongoing consultation by ISS, the firm that handles E&Y’s cleaning contracts, which they fear could see many of them sacked. 

Protesters demonstrate inside the Tate Modern (IWGB)

Henry Lopez, President of the IWBG, told the Standard: “They are exploiting us. Ernst & Young is a multi-million pound company – why can’t they afford to keep on a few more cleaners? 

“We fear they’re going to just get rid of half the staff and get those who are left on to pick up the slack. It’s all about cutting costs. 

“We really feel let down. They should be ashamed. It’s outrageous.” 

Exterior view of the Tate Modern (PA )

A spokesman for EY told the Standard: “EY’s UK cleaning contracts are undertaken by ISS, a leading global provider of facility services.

“ISS are currently conducting a consultation process with their employees and employee representatives about changes to their business, and are taking steps to support their people during this difficult time. 

“EY is a committed supporter of the London Living Wage and this is part of our contractual agreement with ISS.”

An ISS spokesman said: “ISS is managing a number of changes in consultation with its employees and their employee representatives. 

“It is our sincere desire that we will avoid the need for redundancy and that suitable alternative employment can be found within ISS for any affected individual. We will be working with our employees and their representatives to this end.”

The Standard approached the Tate Modern for comment. 

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