Union demands ‘transparency’ over Glasgow Life job losses

Almost all of the charity’s income has been lost as the pandemic forces community venues to stay closed.

Union demands ‘transparency’ over Glasgow Life job losses SNS Group

Union reps will meet with Glasgow Life bosses to demand “full transparency” on potential job losses due to the impact of Covid-19.

Almost all of the charity’s income has been lost as the pandemic forces community venues to stay closed.

Glasgow City Council announced a “safety net” last week – a £100m guarantee that allows 93 of 162 venues to reopen.

But an impact assessment, published with the council’s budget papers, indicated 1000 jobs could be at risk – around 40% of the workforce.

That early estimate has now been described as “out of date” and Glasgow Life said it would be “rewritten”.

The figure will be reduced and the future size of the workforce clearer once the cost of running venues that are reopening is assessed, a spokesman said.

But unions and campaigners are concerned for the future of venues, including libraries, sports facilities and community centres.

They fear a ‘People Make Glasgow Communities’ plan is offloading services to volunteers.

GMB reps will meet with Glasgow Life on Wednesday to discuss the future of services.

A spokesman for the union said “another cuts budget” has “put local services and livelihoods under even greater pressure”.

He added: “Our workforce representatives will meet with the head of service and we will be seeking full transparency on all proposals for the future of service delivery.”

Brian Smith, from Unison, said: “The financial situation with Glasgow Life in the coming years is going to be a major issue we fear.”

He has concerns about ‘community activation pilots’ – allowing community organisations to run venues.

“Our view is that such a level of change would in effect mean the council saying to local people ‘you want a community centre, well run it yourselves’.

“The city needs more money to provide high quality services with paid workers.”

Campaigners at Scotland’s tenants’ union Living Rent are marking 12 months without some libraries, gyms and community centres on Wednesday.

They will hang banners and display testimonies across the city to highlight “the value of Glasgow Life facilities”.

Adam Dransfield, a campaigner, said: “There’s a real concern as to how venues will be funded and run in the future.

“Volunteers do not have the capacity to manage libraries or local services.”

The union is calling for a public meeting on April 28 to allow concerned residents to discuss the People Make Glasgow Communities initiative.

Clare McIntyre, a Living Rent member, said: “While we continue to respect the restrictions in place necessary to control the virus, the pandemic cannot be allowed to serve as a convenient cover for local austerity.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Community services which are run and managed locally are best placed to meet a community’s needs.

“Earlier this year, the Scottish Government’s social renewal advisory board published a report calling for the public sector to give more control to people and communities over decisions that affect their lives. That is what this will do.”

The council budget passed last week reduced the service fee paid to Glasgow Life by around £5m.

However, the council’s SNP administration has agreed to a guarantee which will prevent income falling below £100m.

The charity’s losses – around £38m in income in 2020/21 – will be absorbed by the wider ‘council family’.

Green councillors in Glasgow helped to pass the budget and Councillor Jon Molyneux said the impact assessment is “out of date”.

“The assessment was carried out on the basis of the original saving option put forward by Glasgow Life to reduce funding by 6% each year for three years.

“But the budget that was actually agreed does not include that option. In fact, the budget we agreed actually guarantees no loss of funding over the same period.”

He added the long-term future of community facilities is a “key priority” for his party, which reached an agreement to restore Glasgow Life’s service fee to a “no detriment position of £78m by 2023”.

The Glasgow Life spokesman said: “Last week’s announcement by Glasgow City Council of the safety net for Glasgow Life will reduce the estimates we provided in the budget impact assessment on the size of our future workforce, and the EQIA will therefore require to be rewritten.

“The future size and shape of the Glasgow Life workforce will be clearer when we have fully assessed budgets associated with running the venues and services that are reopening.

“The safety net also provides time for further cost saving strategies to work while we plan for recovery.”

Managing vacancies, through retirement and contracts ending, is helping to reduce Glasgow Life costs. Redeployment, early retirement, and voluntary redundancy are offered in “targeted circumstances”.

The charity has been able to furlough some staff, whose pay is linked to its own income, not the council’s service fee.

At the end of November, £6.7m had been claimed and 751 people remained on the scheme.

Story by local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands

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