A 'charitable?' Library Mutual (and a petition)
Libraries Unlimited, one of the flagship library 'mutuals' run by the ex-head of the Society of Chief Librarians and Libraries Taskforce board member, recently announced that it would be cutting 'weekend enhancement' pay for it's staff, but it seems that in the 'Brave New World' of worker owned mutuals not all workers are equal.
"The pay cut will only affect lower-paid staff while the senior management team and those above Grade E will take no share of the cost-saving measures."
Ciara Eastell, a recent OBE recipient, apparently responded to the suggestion that she and the rest of the senior management should face the same cut by saying;
"she 'worked hard' and 'didn't think she deserved [one]'.
Whilst those at the bottom of the hierarchical ladder (who obviously don't work hard enough and thus don't deserve a proper salary) face up to a 30% pay cut;
Library staff are so concerned that they've set up a petition which is very brave of them as I've heard they've been gagged from speaking about the cuts.
"But councils are cutting terms and conditions and gagging their staff" I hear you say and yes you're right but councils don't claim to be charitable worker-owned social enterprises do they?
Unison have raised serious concerns that mutualisation often leads to cuts in workers T&C's and the creation of a two-tier workforce;
"UNISON believes that alternative delivery models are not a panacea for cuts and in reality, significant savings would only be achieved through the denigration of workforce terms and conditions and/or the creation of a two-tier workforce"
Another day in libraryland and another Libraries Taskforce blog post, this time pushing the governments agenda on spinning out public libraries as mutuals or to give them their full title 'maude's mock mutuals'.
'Could an alternative delivery model be right for your library service?'
The piece was written by Fiona Williams, Chief Executive of Explore York Libraries and Archive and outlines how they became a mutual, plugs some DCMS workshops in March and introduces to us a new consortium, Optimo.
Optimo consists of York Explore, Suffolk Libraries, Inspire (Nottinghamshire), Libraries Unlimited (Devon) and Mutual Ventures.
Mutual Ventures is a consultancy firm fronted by David Fairhurst and Andrew Laird, they claim to;
"support public service commissioners, organisational leaders and front-line staff who are seeking to identify, develop and grow the right delivery model for their services"
not only that but they also state that;
"The missing element from traditional delivery is the power of public service entrepreneuralism"
One the directors, David Fairhurst, in 2012 was appointed by the government as one of its 15 'mutuals ambassadors'.
And the other director, Andrew Laird, is a regular contributor to the 'Conservative Home' website and recently wrote a piece for them in which he states;
"Theresa May has expressed a desire to see a more diverse public service market place with more public service mutuals. The Prime Minister has also spoken of the Government stepping up to repair markets where they are not working. So where better to start than by releasing the inner entrepreneur of our nurses, social workers and librarians? It’s the best way I can think of to kick start public service productivity."
So basically they're just another bunch of neo-liberals who've found a way of making money out of the government's ideological agenda to undermine and offload public services. Just another example of consultants circling the public sector carcass looking for bones.
Doesn't this and the 30% pay cuts in Devon bring the mutuals and co-operative movement into disrepute?
"Aren't Winckworth Sherwood just a firm of solicitors?" I hear you say well yes they are but they've also found a way of making money out of the library crisis by advising councils on spinning out their services.
"The team has particular expertise advising on charity options for leisure, culture and heritage projects."
"To date the team have established over 75 arts, leisure and culture trusts operating successfully throughout the UK."
But it looks as if things haven't quite gone to plan in Pembrokeshire with the council asking for it's money back claiming that the firm "misled" them, oh dear!
"The council paid private consultant Winckworth Sherwood £20,000 to advise on how to save money by outsourcing libraries, leisure centres and sports pitches to a charitable trust."
"I think we were very much misled by Winckworth Sherwood and I ask that we make this known to the consultants."
See http://dontprivatiselibraries.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/winkworth-sherwood.html for more on Winckworth Sherwood and their lead partner on spinning out public services, Joanna Bussell.