Glasgow City Council has urged £60m worth of paintings to be sold to meet future equal pay bills


A haunting £60million painting of Christ was set to be sold to help cover Glasgow’s equal pay bills, according to a top unionist.

Gary Smith of the GMB said council leaders should be ready to slam the Salvador Dali masterpiece and give the money to women who are being denied a fair wage.

He exploded: “There’s no way this discrimination is being paid for in a livelihood crisis at the expense of hard-pressed workers.”

Glasgow City Council agreed an equal pay deal worth around £500million for thousands of mostly female workers in 2019.

But a new salary classification system has still not been introduced and unions say discrimination persists.

The GMB believes the pending bill will be massive and union members have been elected to strike.

Smith says lucrative city fortune should be on the table when considering how to pay for a future settlement.

Gary Smith from the GMB

Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross is a stunning depiction of the late Spanish artist’s crucifixion.

Bought by art bosses in 1952 for less than £10,000, it is the main attraction at Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

It is now reportedly valued at over £60million – enough to cover a large chunk of the bill that GMB claims will have to foot.

Smith, general secretary of the GMB, said: “The Council’s outstanding debt for equal pay is increasing by the day and the final bill is likely to be in the hundreds of millions again.

“So the unelected officials of the council have stalled the arbitration process, failed to make a clear offer to stakeholders, and not provided a definitive timetable for replacing the discriminatory wage and classification system – yet they wonder why 14,000 workers are voting to strike?

“We have repeatedly urged council leaders to get on the phone with the government and ask for help to ease the pressure on the city’s finances and solve Glasgow’s equal pay crisis, but it has fallen on deaf ears.

“If the council really thinks they can fix this on their own, they’d better start making plans to flog the Dali, because there’s no way this discrimination will be paid for at the expense of the workers under pressure. living crisis.”

It’s not the first time that the Dali painting has been suggested as a money cow for the city.

Art impresario Richard Demarco proposed in 2001 that it be sold to pay off the council’s debts.

He said at the time: “They should wait until the painting is worth £100m and sell it to save the city of Glasgow from bankruptcy because they cannot afford to run their galleries at the moment.”

However, any sale would face stiff opposition as the painting brings tourists to Glasgow.

The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay stopped to view the famous work during a trip to Kelvingrove last year.

Martha Wardrop, a Scottish Green councilor in Glasgow, said: “Whoever makes up Glasgow’s administration after May’s election, the process of resolving Labour’s legacy of unequal pay must remain a priority.

“Green city councilors will work for a quick and fair agreement, but we will not flog the city’s cultural heritage for this. We will continue to push for the funding and powers councils need to invest in local services and pay workers well.”

A spokesman for the council said: “We are negotiating with unions and other representatives of applicants. We won’t know the cost of claims settlement until we reach an agreement – and that will drive any financial strategy.”

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