Museum workers in Glasgow could take further strike action if proposed job cuts aren’t reversed, a union rep warned, as staff protested outside the city chambers.

Unison members are taking part in a five-day strike this week over Glasgow Life’s plans to remove 38 jobs from its museums and collections service.

They gathered outside the city chambers on Thursday, before a full council meeting, to call for more money to prevent the cuts.  Glasgow Life, which runs culture and leisure services for the council, said it needs to make over £7 million of savings after the council cut its service fee earlier this year.

At the protest, one striking curator said workers had resorted to industrial action to “get our voice heard” and “make the point about what the museums mean to people”.

Glasgow Times:

While the Burrell Collection, which closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, was reopened on Thursday, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was shut for the fourth day this week.

Glasgow Museums Resource Centre was also reopened.

Brian Smith, Unison Glasgow secretary, said the strike had been “effective” as the Kelvingrove and the Burrell had to close, but it has “not been successful yet”.

“We’ve not won the dispute, but in terms of what we’ve done this week, we’re actually pleased,” he said. “We’ve had no contact from the council this week, we did have contact with them on Friday of last week.  “They have promised they will talk to us next week, so we do hope they’ve learned their lesson and reflected on what’s happened this week.

“If they want to avoid more strike action then they need to get a settlement to the dispute. They need to put more money on the table.”

Unison members were set to meet later on Thursday to discuss their next steps, but Mr Smith said he “would be surprised if they said they didn’t want to agree further strike action”.

He added: “The museums will be poorer if these cuts go ahead, and people won’t see what they see at the moment. That will be a shame for everybody who lives in the city.”

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow Life plans to cut £1.5m from the museums and collection service as part of the wider package of savings totalling over £7m. Curators, conservators, outreach assistants, digital photographers and technicians are among the roles affected.

Alison Brown, a curator, said: “The cuts that are being made are to 30% of effectively the backroom staff, the professional, specialist, technical staff. We are the lifeblood of the museum service.

“It’s the people who put on the exhibitions, the displays, and care for the collections.”

Unison wants more national funding to be provided to Glasgow’s museums and Ms Brown said: “Our collection is the largest local authority collection in the UK, it is of a national level.”

She said shutting museums, and turning people away, is “not what we want to do”. “We’re just at the point, we want the council to take note of our strength of feeling on this.

“It’s not just about losing our jobs, we are all professionally really worried about what it means for the museum service and the civic collection.

“The public, when we explain, are really supportive, particularly the international visitors, because one of the things they say is ‘you are a free museum, it is amazing’. They are so used to museums having a charge.”

A spokesman for Glasgow Life said the collections would continue to receive “careful and considered care”.

The planned cuts “were approved by the council” and are “a direct consequence of the continued pressures on public sector finance”, he said.

“Senior museums officers have met with Unison and our other trade unions repeatedly this year to explain the financial context for Glasgow Life’s operating climate and to discuss the implications of the planned staffing reduction within Glasgow Life’s Museums service.  “We recognise how valued our museums and collections are to Glasgow’s communities and the city’s international profile, and we understand the concern any changes may cause.  “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.”