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Museum staff balloted for strike action in job cuts row

Museum workers are being balloted for strike action in a dispute over job cuts.

Unison claims that Glasgow Life is planning to cut 30% of jobs in the city’s museums and collections section which includes venues such as Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Burrell Collection.

The jobs affected include curators, conservators, technicians, outreach and learning assistants, collections staff and employees from photography, editorial and design.

Unison has now notified Glasgow Life of the move to ballot nearly 70 members in the affected section from next week until September 26.

The Burrell Collection
The Burrell Collection is among the museums run by Glasgow Life (Jane Barlow/PA)

It said that with other trade unions adopting a similar approach, more than 100 workers are now being asked to vote for strike action.

Brian Smith, Unison Glasgow Branch Secretary, said: “These workers are angry at how Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council are treating them, and by extension the museums loved and enjoyed by the people of Glasgow.

“A 30% cut in jobs in the museums and collections section is huge and will have a very damaging impact on how the collections are maintained, displayed and developed in the future. The loss of community outreach programmes is also unacceptable.

“Politicians should be investing in the city’s world class museums, not slashing jobs.

“Unison members are now being balloted for strike action. Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council need to listen to these workers’ concerns. The council leadership need to reverse these job cuts”.

The dispute has seen a series of protests outside some of Glasgow’s museums and the City Chambers in recent weeks.

More protests are now planned including on September 2 at the Riverside Museum and on Saturday 16 at Kelvingrove Museum.

A spokesperson for Glasgow Life said: “Glasgow Life’s annual service fee was cut by Glasgow City Council when the council confirmed its 2023/24 budget in February.

“This financial year, Glasgow Life has to make £7.1 million worth of savings, and the measures identified within our museums and collections service are a direct consequence of the continued pressures on public sector budgets.

“The savings we are making this year add up to around 9% of our annual service fee from the council and ensure none of our facilities will have to close.

“Wherever possible, we have identified ways of making savings by reducing, rather than losing, Glasgow Life services, programmes and events, retaining the potential to rebuild them in the future.”