Glasgow council urged to sell £60m paint to meet future equal pay bills
A haunting £60million painting of Christ is set to be sold to meet Glasgow’s equal pay bills, a senior trade unionist has claimed.
GMB’s Gary Smith said council bosses should be ready to flog Salvador Dali’s masterpiece and give the money to women deprived of a fair wage.
He lambasted: ‘There is no way this discrimination is being paid for on the backs of hard-pressed workers in a cost of living crisis.
An equal pay deal worth around £500million was struck by Glasgow City Council in 2019 for thousands of predominantly female workers.
But a new pay grading system has still not been introduced and unions say discrimination remains in place.
The GMB believe the pending bill will be huge and union members have been voted for strike action.
Smith says the city’s lucrative assets should be on the table when considering how to pay for any future settlements.
Dali’s “Christ of Saint John of the Cross” is a striking depiction of the Crucifixion by the late Spanish artist.
Bought by art masters for less than £10,000 in 1952, it is Kelvingrove Art Gallery’s star attraction.
He is now believed to be valued at over £60m – enough to cover much of the bill that GMB’s claims will have to be paid.
Smith, General Secretary of the GMB, said: “The council’s residual liability for equal pay is growing by the day and the final bill will likely again be in the hundreds of millions.
“That’s why unelected council officials stalled the settlement process, made no clear offers to the claimant groups, and provided no definitive timeline for replacing the discriminatory pay and rankings system – but they wonder why 14,000 workers vote for the strike?
“Time and time again we have urged council leaders to pick up the phone to government and ask for help to ease the strain on the city’s finances and to help solve Glasgow’s equal pay crisis. , but it fell on deaf ears.
“If the council really thinks it can solve this problem on its own, it better start making plans to whip the Dali, because there is no way this discrimination will be paid for on the backs of beleaguered workers in a cost of- living crisis.
This is not the first time that Dali’s painting has been offered as a cash cow for the city.
Arts impresario Richard Demarco suggested in 2001 that it could be sold to pay the council’s debts.
He said at the time: “They should wait until the painting is worth £100million and sell it to save the City of Glasgow from bankruptcy because at the moment they cannot afford to run its galleries. “
However, any sale would be met with fierce resistance as the painting brings tourists to Glasgow.
The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay stopped to gaze at the famous artwork during a trip to Kelvingrove last year.
Martha Wardrop, Scottish Green Councilor in Glasgow, said: “The process of settling Labour’s unequal pay legacy must remain a priority, whoever forms Glasgow’s administration after the May election.
“Green councilors will work for a quick and fair settlement, but we will not resort to flogging the city’s cultural assets to achieve this. We will continue to push for the funding and powers councils need to invest in local services and pay workers well.
A council spokesman said: ‘We are negotiating with unions and other claimant representatives. We will only know the cost of claims settlement once we have reached an agreement – and this will determine any financial strategy.
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