DEMANDS have been made for the Scottish Government to step up with extra funding to help Glasgow’s culture and leisure services through a crisis as proposed job cuts are widely condemned.

More than 500 jobs will go from Glasgow Life in the wake of the pandemic and it has led to a call for answers on the future of the service as politicians reacted with fury at the losses.

The extent of the job cuts from the charitable organisation, which runs museums, libraries and sporting facilities for Glasgow City Council, was met with disbelief.

Read more: Glasgow Life will see 500 jobs go amid covid crisis recovery

Glasgow Life was severely hit during the pandemic and lost £38million last year with its estimated revenue for 20/21 just £6.4m. The organisation confirmed that staff numbers will be cut back by 500 over a period of time.

Jobs will go over the next five years and will be through methods such as early retirement and voluntary redundancy.

The Herald: Some libraries have remained closed after lockdownSome libraries have remained closed after lockdown (Image: Newsquest)

An agreed funding deal through Glasgow City Council will see the arms-length organisation receive a guaranteed £100m over the next four years which will allow to reopen 90 of its 171 venues. Without further funding no more venues can reopen.

The bitter blow comes as The Herald launched a campaign this week, A Fair Deal for Glasgow, calling on both Scottish and UK governments to support a new funding deal for culture and leisure in the city.

Read more: More than half a billion pounds earned through nation's cultural powerhouse

We are also calling for the city’s venues and collections to be recognised as being of national significance and to receive appropriate funding.

Councillor Jon Molyneux, of the Scottish Greens, said: “Glasgow Life shouldn’t be preparing for any job losses whatsoever. Its focus must be on restarting all its services and reopening all its venues as soon as possible, as directed by the city’s councillors.

“That will need the Scottish Government to step in with extra funding until other income recovers. That’s what Scottish Greens have been demanding for more than a year now.

“It’s welcome that the Council leadership is now publicly calling for a better funding deal for Glasgow, and we support those calls. But fears that Glasgow Life is using COVID as cover to close dozens of community venues, or to pass them off onto volunteers to run, are not helped by this unacceptable speculation on job losses.”

The Herald: Communities have staged their own protests at libraries not yet reopeningCommunities have staged their own protests at libraries not yet reopening

Conservative Councillor Robert Connelly said he has written to Councillor David McDonald, chairman of Glasgow Life and depute leader of Glasgow City Council, calling for action to push for a fair funding deal.

He said: “The news of 500 job losses from Glasgow Life was disheartening and disappointing for local communities and workers for Glasgow Life after they have worked so hard through the pandemic, through difficult times, to be treated like this is not fair and unacceptable.

“I have written to Cllr McDonald to demand that he speaks to the Scottish Government to get a fair funding settlement for Glasgow so that we can actually fund facilities and ensure that they can all reopen as soon as possible and to save the jobs that are under threat.”

The Herald: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of the venues operated by Glasgow LifeKelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of the venues operated by Glasgow Life

Campaign group Save the Couper library which is fighting to have their facility reopened said they felt gutted by the jobs news.

A spokesman for the group said: "This just leaves us feeling gutted. We are told we are not closing and not reopening and it is all a bit disingenuous and now with this I don't know where it leaves us."

Conservative MSP for Glasgow Annie Wells said: “Glasgow Life employees have worked hard during the pandemic and to now be treated like this is simply unacceptable."

South side councillor Malcolm Cunning, leader of the council’s Labour group, said: “This is shocking news and equally shocking that councillors were not directly advised of this but had to find out from news media. Glasgow Labour will continue to fight for precious services and the dedicated and hard working staff who deliver them.”

Meanwhile, Glasgow MSP Paul Sweeney claimed that Glasgow Life had now become an easy target, saying: “The Scottish Government’s disproportionate cuts to Glasgow City Council, coupled with an SNP administration that refuses to speak out has resulted in Glasgow Life becoming an easy target and unfortunately it will be the workers and the city at large that suffers as a consequence.”

The Herald: Councillor McDonald to unite the city behind the campaign launched by the Herald to win a fair deal for GlasgowCouncillor McDonald to unite the city behind the campaign launched by the Herald to win a fair deal for Glasgow

GMB Scotland Organiser David Hume said the situation in Glasgow Life is another example of the crisis facing the city’s workers, services and communities.

Mr Hume said: “This is what a decade of cuts looks like and left unchallenged, the problems are only going to get worse. Bluntly, the city’s plight cannot be solved by the council alone – it needs help from government.

“GMB is clear that Glasgow needs a programme of massive investment and work to start tackling the damage done by an era of disastrous political austerity, to settle it’s residual equal pay liabilities, and to finally replace it’s discriminatory job evaluation system.”

A spokesman for Glasgow Life said: “Glasgow Life’s current policy is for no compulsory redundancies and staff have a guarantee of a job at the same grade within the Council family. 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. This reduction is not being delivered through venues without re-opening dates. Staff may also be offered redeployment opportunities and will be supported with appropriate training if they move to a new role.”

Cllr David McDonald, chairman of Glasgow Life and depute leader of Glasgow City Council, said some councillors might have amnesia as their budget proposals would have seen Glasgow Life funding cut.

He said: "These are serious times for Glasgow Life and we need to have an open, honest, serious approach as we attempt to unite the city behind the campaign launched by the Herald to win a fair deal for Glasgow’s nationally and internationally important cultural and sporting assets. If the Glasgow Tories want to help perhaps now would be a good time for them to focus on securing a better deal for Glasgow from their colleagues in the UK Government."

A city council spokesman said this was an ongoing process, adding: "“Members also had full visibility of the staffing implications of any budget proposals they made in March. The initial estimate for Glasgow Life was a reduction of around 1,000 jobs – however, this was reduced to 500 after the council took steps to put in place a £100m income guarantee for the coming years."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Glasgow City Council will receive a total funding package of almost £1.5 billion to support local services, which includes an extra £29.8 million to support vital day to day services, equivalent to an increase of 2.2 per cent compared to 2020-21.

“To date, the council has been allocated an additional £221.7 million to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, through the local government settlement - over and above their regular grant payments."

They added it was the responsibility of individual councils to manage their own budgets and to allocate the financial resources available to them on the basis of local needs and priorities.