Kelvingrove Museum to be sold over equal pay bill

Kelvingrove would be re-leased to the council after long-term loans are secured against its value

BBC Scotland is reporting that Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum and Art Galleries and City Chambers are set to be sold by the SNP-run city council to settle equal pay claims.

Councillors approved a strategy to “pawn” these and other buildings, valued at about £200 million, to a council-owned property firm and lease them back.

The council still owes millions from a long-running equal pay dispute, mainly involving female workers.

This led to more than 12,000 equal pay claims over a decade.

Campaigners said the scheme led to workers in roles such as catering or cleaning receiving up to £3 an hour less than those in male-dominated areas such as refuse collection.

The case was settled at an estimated cost of £500m in 2019. Finances are now needed to resolve remaining cases – which include some claims made too late to be included in the earlier deal.

Previously a property portfolio – including the SEC Armadillo, City Halls and the Museum Resource Centre – was transferred to the council arm’s-length company City Property. These were “re-mortgaged” to release funds to settle pay claims.

Buildings now being considered for the scheme include the City Chambers, Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) and Kelvin Hall as well as school campuses at Sighthill and Gowanbank.

Thousands of women march in Glasgow in one of the biggest strikes over equal pay in the UK.
Thousands of women marched in one of the biggest strikes over equal pay in the UK.

They would then be rented back to the council with the cost of the lease designed to meet the loan repayments.

The council hopes to raise about £200m, bringing the total funding available to settle equal pay liabilities to about £270m.

Council leader Susan Aitken said: “Raising these kinds of sums is exceptionally challenging – and the high-profile properties involved, particularly in this second tranche, illustrates that.

“However, the city’s historic failures on equal pay come at a price – and 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.”

Councillors have already approved a strategy to fund compensation offers to claimants represented by Action4Equality, Unison, GMB and Unite.

The council said the buildings would remain in the city’s ownership and users would “not see any difference in how they access them on a day-to-day basis”.

Leave a Reply