Glasgow City Council has proposed selling the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in order to finance an equal pay dispute.
Councillors have approved a sale-and-leaseback arrangement with council-owned property firm City Property Glasgow Investments LLP for a number of buildings worth up to £200m. Kelvingrove Art Gallery, the City Chambers, Gallery of Modern Art, and Kelvin Hall are amongst the buildings making up the deal.
The purpose of the deal is to allow Glasgow City Council a way to raise funds for equal pay settlements. The £200m generated in the sale will settle these equal pay liabilities, before the buildings are leased back from the property firm in the long-term. The equal pay dispute arose out of a pay and conditions scheme which campaigners said led to those in professions dominated by women earning up to £3 an hour less than in those dominated by men for work of equal value.
A sale-and-leaseback arrangement was put in place in 2019 for the initial round of equal pay settlements, where the SEC Armadillo, City Halls and the Museum Resource Centre were sold to the same property firm. However, since a new pay and grading system has not yet been put in place, further pay claims have since arisen.
The council said that there would be no difference in how users experience these buildings on a day-to-day basis, while SNP council leader Susan Aitken said that “releasing the potential of our property, while keeping it in the city’s ownership, at least protects services and the future of these valued assets”, and that “the city’s historic failures on equal pay come at a price.”
Sean Baillie of GMB Scotland said that the sale is “a consequence of the council’s chronic sex discrimination of low-paid women workers…we would like the public to understand that our members are fighting for the return of money stolen from them by their employer – this is a long and hard battle, and their expectations are the council will honour its liabilities…That’s the very least these workers deserve for the discrimination they have suffered and continue to endure.”