Yachting’s public image picked up yet another public black eye this week in the UK, where once again, people who sail look like entitled douches. In this case, low-income contract workers at one of the world’s most prestigious art galleries were asked in a letter to contribute to buying a yacht for an outgoing executive – gallery director Nick Serota. Known as a ‘leaving gift’, the English tradition calls for grateful employees to contribute a few bucks for a usually small office gift to show their appreciation for a job well done. But in this case, someone thought it was a good idea to ask hundreds of contract employees to buy a yacht for a guy who makes over $200,000 a year while salary and pay negotiations are ongoing for the rest of the company. As the Times reports:
Pay negotiations have been tense. One trade union claimed that even after wage increases proposed by the museum group, staff pay would range from 15,707 pounds to 23,695 pounds, or about $20,230 to $30,520. By contrast, Mr. Serota made almost £200,000 in 2016-17, a Tate spokesman said.
Trade unions and workers’ rights advocates also complain that some people working at the Tate group’s museums via outside contracting companies are subject to so-called zero-hours contracts, in which their employers do not guarantee a minimum amount of work a week. As a result, these workers do not have dependable income.
At the Tate Modern art gallery, along the River Thames in London, two employees, who declined to give their names but wore Tate uniforms and identification lanyards, said workers had initially thought the request for donations was a joke.
To mock the letter, one said, workers made a paper boat and affixed it to the note.