Glasgow Life looks to cut 500 jobs - Museums Association

Glasgow Life looks to cut 500 jobs

Covid has 'all but wiped out' charity’s earned income
Covid-19 redundancy
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Rebecca Atkinson
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A tour at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, part of Glasgow Life. The venue is currently closed due to Covid restrictions.
A tour at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, part of Glasgow Life. The venue is currently closed due to Covid restrictions.

Glasgow Life, the charity that runs the city’s museums as well as libraries and sports venues, has confirmed it cut about 500 jobs in a bid to restore its financial fortunes.

The organisation said that the Covid pandemic has had a “significant impact” on its finances and “all but wiped out” £37.4m of earned income from ticket sales, donations and gym memberships.

It will look to reduce costs by cutting its workforce, but a spokesperson for Glasgow Life said its current policy is for no compulsory redundancies and to guarantee affected staff a job at the same grade elsewhere in the council.

“While our overall headcount will reduce by an estimated 500 over time, this is being managed using targeted early retirement and voluntary redundancy and careful vacancy management as people leave to pursue new career opportunities,” the spokesperson added.

“This reduction is not being delivered through venues without reopening dates. Staff may also be offered redeployment opportunities and will be supported with appropriate training if they move to a new role.”

Glasgow City Council’s budget, which was announced in March, revealed that it would cut the fee it pays Glasgow Life to run services such as museums by 6% (or £4.7m) to £72.8m for 2021-22. The council has provided a guarantee up to £100m for the next five years, which will allow the charity to “stabilise while planning for a sustainable future”.

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The spokesperson for Glasgow Life said: “Glasgow Life will be a very different organisation at the end of this [five-year] period and we are asking staff for flexibility during this process and are regularly updating them through internal communications and briefings from their managers; and unions are also regularly updated.” 

In May, Glasgow City Council passed a motion for all of Glasgow Life’s 171 facilities to reopen as soon as funding and Scottish government guidance allowed. To date, 91 have reopened, including its largest museums - Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Riverside Museum, the People’s Palace and the Gallery of Modern Art.

Other venues, such as the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, St Mungo Museum of Religious Life, Provand’s Lordship and Scotland Street School Museum, remain closed due to visiting restrictions.

Glasgow Life has warned it is “unrealistic” to expect that it can raise significant additional income this year to support the reopening of closed venues.

As previously reported by Museums Journal, St Mungo Museum is at risk of permanent closure and discussions between Glasgow Life, the council and the Cathedral Precinct where it is located are ongoing.

“No concrete proposals have been presented for consideration or approval,” it said in a statement.

A campaign to save the museum, including a petition and fundraising events, has been started.

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