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Sotheby’s staff threaten strike

Sotheby’s may very well be enjoying skyrocketing profits across the globe, but their art handlers, a group of people that carry around and package the works worth millions of pounds when sold at the auction house, are threatening to go on strike.

The group has bases across the globe and the art handlers say that Sotheby’s is planning to cut back the number of handlers they employ full time. That, they say would leave just untrained, poorly paid handlers packaging and handling some of the most expensive art in the world. Of course the auction house completely disputes this claim.

A large part of the work of the handlers is traffic that is transatlantic between New York and London and involves a number of art works that are both coming and going from places all across the globe.

One employee who requested anonymity said a strike could create huge repercussions for anyone that ships works from the US and Britain or any other of the Sotheby bases. It is very common to have artworks transported by sellers from country to country. Specialists in valuing the works are located in many different locations around the globe.

A local union in New York is ready to strike if negotiations do not work out. The union wants more handlers while the auction house is seeking to cut costs. What is key the union said was full time employment. The auction house has done quite well over the past couple of years yet we are being asked to reduce full time art handlers.


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