Unions set to hold protests outside two popular Glasgow museums due to cuts

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Two protests are to be held outside Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art and the Burrell Collection

Unions will hold protests outside two Glasgow museums — including the gallery hosting Banksy’s exhibition — over cuts which could see 37 jobs lost.

UNISON, Unite and the GMB are calling on Glasgow Life, which runs museums on behalf of the city council, to drop “devastating” plans to save £1.5m. They will demonstrate outside the Burrell Collection — recently named Art Fund Museum of the Year — on Saturday (July 29) before gathering outside the Gallery of Modern Art, which is currently hosting Bansky’s ‘Cut and Run’ exhibition, on August 5. Both protests start at 12pm.

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UNISON said visitors to the popular venues would be “shocked” to know nearly a third of jobs within the city’s museums and collections department are set to be removed. The union said 37 posts from a total of 128 are to be lost this year, with posts such as curators, conservators, technicians, learning assistants and collections staff affected.

Glasgow Life previously said collections will receive “careful and considered care” and savings are being made by “reducing, rather than losing” services.

Earlier this year, a spokesman said Glasgow Life’s savings added up to “around 9% of the annual service fee” it receives from the council. He added: “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.”

A UNISON spokesperson said the union “demands Glasgow councillors stand up for our museums, not pass on funding attacks from the Scottish and UK Governments. We call on councillors to reverse these devastating cuts to our museums and collections,” they added. “Our museums and collections are world renowned and internationally lauded. They need to be protected and cherished.”

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The union believes the cuts will “result in a loss of skills, knowledge, creativity and essential care” of Glasgow’s museums, leading to “diminished public experience, empty exhibition spaces and stagnant galleries.” It also said free facilitated weekend activities for families would be “greatly reduced” as a result of the cuts, and initiatives such as dementia and autism friendly programmes are “much less likely to happen in the future”.

A spokesperson for Glasgow Life said: “Glasgow’s museums and collections receive careful and considered care and this is going to continue. The savings Glasgow Life is making this year add up to around 9% of the annual service fee the charity receives from Glasgow City Council and ensure we will not have to close any venues.

“More than half of the Glasgow Life Museums posts affected by these savings measures are currently vacant. We are currently working closely with staff and unions to work through what this will mean for individual members of staff. 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.”

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