Union threatens strike action ballot over plans to slash museum jobs

Unison have threatened to ballot museum staff on strike action if the threat of job cuts is not removed.

Trade union members are stepping up their protest of plans to slash jobs across Glasgow’s museums.

Unison members took to the streets outside the city chambers on Thursday in the latest of a serious of demonstrations.

Chants of “defend Glasgow museums” could be heard by protesters carrying banners and loudspeakers in a bid to bring the council back to the negotiating table.

The union have threatened to ballot museum staff on strike action if the threat of job cuts is not removed.

Unison claims Glasgow Life intend to cut 37 posts in the city’s museums and collections department to save £1.5m.

Behind-the-scenes roles such as curators, conservators, technicians, outreach and learning assistants, collections staff and positions involving photography, editorial and design are all under threat.

Thursday’s demonstration comes following similar action at the Burrell Collection and the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) – where union members also received a nod of support from Banksy.

The illusive artist, whose exhibition is currently being held at the gallery, showed backing for workers with the Grim Reaper in a Dodgem who held a ‘No Cuts’ sign outside the GoMA.

Banksy's Grim Reaper in a Dodgem supported protesting workers.Unison

Another protest is set to take place on Saturday outside the People’s Palace.

Brian Smith, Unison branch secretary in Glasgow, told STV News: “We’re here protesting against the council’s decision to make 30% of job cuts in the museums and collections teams in Glasgow.

“These are the people who maintain, care for and look after our museums, set up all the displays and all the things that people interact with when they go into Glasgow’s museums.

“A cut of that level is going to fundamentally change Glasgow’s museums and we want the council to change their mind.”

He added: “The council are saying that they won’t talk to us about the job cuts, they’re willing to talk to us about other issues about Glasgow Life’s budget but we’ve been very clear to them that we want these job cuts off the table and then we can speak to them about other aspects of the budget which we’re happy to do.

“The members are angry about the way they’ve been treated by the council. They’re very committed to the job they do, these are very specialist workers. They want to make sure the museums in Glasgow are as good as they can be, and indeed better, for the people of Glasgow.”

He added that future strike action may occur if jobs are not protected.

He said: “We’re now consulting our members on whether they want to take industrial action, that looks as though that will be the next step. If the council don’t come back round the table, then they leave trade unions with only one option and that means we will need to consider taking strike action and we will seriously consider that.”

STV News has contacted Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council for comment.

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