MUSAC employees demand the regularisation of their working conditions, after six years of employment in the museum.
The museum education staff at MUSAC, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Castilla and León (Spain), consisting of six educators, reveal that their working conditions within the museum are not regularised, in spite of being employed by the museum, exclusively, for the last six years. The municipal entity from Castilla and León that manages MUSAC, the Century Foundation for the Arts of Castilla and León (Fundación Siglo para las Artes de Castilla y León), has announced that it will open a public tender to contract museum education services, ignoring both the rights entitled to these six educators, who will become unemployed as a result, as well as the years of shared experiences accumulated between the museum and its education department.
MUSAC, hiding behind a façade of international recognition and success, obscures the precarious labour conditions of its employees, giving us, once again, a vision of public administrators as being primarily responsible for the loss of workers’ rights in this country. In fact, only 3.5% of the museum’s €4.5 million (approx) annual budget is dedicated to the museum educators whose jobs are in danger.
Worldwide, numerous cultural collectives denounce the mounting precarity of work in the cultural sector, a situation that in Spain’s centres (museums, theatres, galleries) has reached limits that surpass legal standards.
The staff of the DEAC (Department of Education and Cultural Outreach) at MUSAC are responsible for the design, management and execution of nearly all educational, social and cultural activities carried out by the institution. Now, they are denouncing their irregular employment conditions, which have extended over a period of six years, beginning with the opening of the museum in 2005.
During this time, the museum education staff has developed a continuous programme of cultural and pedagogical work, based on collaborating with different collectives in the city and facilitating their interaction with museum exhibitions.
In spite of the long-term, sustained nature of this work, employees have transitioned through various phases that have adversely affected their working conditions over time. It now appears that they will not be able to continue in their work in MUSAC, due to the latest budget cuts.
The five women and one man who make up the education department figure as “self-employed” workers. This status camouflages their exclusive relationship with the XXI Century Foundation (Fundación Siglo 21). By working for MUSAC as “self-employed” workers, these educators were deprived of standard benefits, such as: medical leave, maternity / paternity leave, unemployment, social security, retirement amortization…
The XXI Century Foundation has just opened a public tender to contract out their museum education services. This move supposes that the education department staff will lose their jobs in two to six months, without any rights for reclamation. Their accumulated professional experience developed in the last six years, as well as their inherent rights as workers, have been compromised. This action will also affect the links that have been created, over time, between the museum and the local community: families, collectives, schools, associations, hospitals, community centres, etc.
Despite all this, everything that has here been cited will enter into direct conflict with the 2nd Plan of Action for Museums in Castilla and León 2010-2015 (BOCYL, December 29, 2010), wherein the government of Castilla and León affirms that they are “firmly committed to fulfilling the educational and experiential purposes that form part of the essence of our museums [...]”
The precarious situation that has emerged has led to successive and frustrated attempts on behalf of museum staff to negotiate with the management of the museum, although never with the Century Foundation that is, de jure, the contracting body.
As a consequence, we, the DEAC staff of MUSAC, demand that the Century Foundation for the Arts of Castilla and León (la Fundación Siglo para las Artes de Castilla y León) recognize our rights as exclusive employees of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Castilla and León (Spain) after nearly six years of working in this centre.
677152097 ANTONIO GONZÁLEZ CHAMORRO.
 Translator’s Note: In Spain, the “self-employed”, or autónomo, status is designed for people who work for various clients/employers, such contractors or freelance designers, among other possible positions.