GLASGOW City Council has been warned that lives are “at risk” as long as work continues on the redevelopment of the Burrell Collection.

Last week, Nicola Sturgeon said the government expected construction sites to be closed “unless the building that is being worked on is essential such as a hospital”.

Despite that advice workers were busy yesterday, working on the refurbishment of the world-famous art gallery and museum in Pollok Park.

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Bosses at the construction firm managing the £66m project told the Glasgow Times they were following the UK government’s advice, which says work on building sites can continue as long as workers follow strict social distancing.

Unite the union’s Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty urged Scottish ministers to introduce “tougher measures to ensure non-essential sites shut down because lives are at risk, and to ensure that workers are paid.”

He said: “For several weeks now Unite has repeatedly been raising with construction firms and the Scottish Government that unless sites are expressly linked to the health service then they should shut down as the First Minister has stated.

“It’s outrageous that work remains ongoing at the Burrell Collection. The instruction from government is clear, however, firms continue to ignore this, which is why Unite is calling for tougher measures to ensure non-essential sites shut down because lives are at risk, and to ensure that workers are paid.”

SNP MP Stewart McDonald, whose Glasgow South constituency covers the Burrell Collection, said: “Three simple words: send staff home.”

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Most of the money for the work on the Burrell Collection has come from the public sector, with Glasgow City Council paying around £34m towards the overall project cost, and the Scottish Government paying £5m.

Yet, yesterday, Glasgow Life, the arms-length organisation which looks after the council’s cultural and sport offerings, declined to comment and referred all questions to Kier, the multinational construction firm in charge of managing the site.

A spokeswoman for Kier said it had reduced the number of personnel on site since the coronavirus outbreak: “The health, safety and welfare of our people is paramount and, as a responsible business, we have reviewed our sites to ensure they can operate in a way which continues to comply with the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures, which are based on the UK Government’s instructions.

“Following this review, the sites that are able to comply with these procedures, which includes the Burrell Collection, continue to be operational. The resources at the Burrell have been significantly reduced and are focusing upon the safety and security of this nationally important building.”